Why Airtel Was So Down In The Dumps At IMC 2018

If anyone has attended the just concluded India Mobile Congress, he or she would have noticed how India’s largest telco Bharti Airtel carried a spiritless, lifeless, dull and unresponsive face during the entire three-day event.Except the first day when the firm’s founder Sunil Bharti Mittal was present during the inauguration of the IMC 2018, the other two days did not see any prominent face from Airtel representing the company. Its stall at the Hall No B also was in the doldrums and visitors were barely acknowledged by the dour attendants!

Airtel is the largest telecom company in the country and IMC 2018 was the biggest telecom and technology event India hosted this year. Again, the event was organised by COAI of which Airtel is a founding member and perhaps the most influential one. Hence, the conspicuous absence of key Airtel executives at the event baffled many a visitors to the event during these three days.

Despite the rise of Reliance Jio in the telecom space or the united force of Vodafone and Idea, Airtel is still the biggest force in the Indian telecom arena. Its founder Sunil Bharti Mittal, for over two decades, has been the poster boy of Indian telecom and is one of the finest vocalists of telecom policies and its rights, not only in India but across the globe also.

But if anyone has heard his speech at the IMC 2018, one could have easily figured out how reluctant and subdued his tone was. In the the first edition of the India Mobile Congress, in 2017, Mittal’s speech was of his natural best – invoking the industry to join forces to bridge the digital divide and reach out to the unconnected. In the first edition of IMC, Mittal, reciprocating to RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s reference as ‘good friend’ had offered to collaborate with Jio on future technologies and to find synergies in investments. His speech at IMC 2017 was typical of Sunil Bharti Mittal – leading from the front.

However, in IMC 2018 Mittal sounded too hesitant, appeared pessimistic and filled his speech with too many a complains around the prevalent telecom scenario. He spoke nothing new – what he complained that day was what his company and other incumbent firms are doing for last two years or, to be precise, since the entry of Jio to the market, complaining about spectrum price, high GST and heavy tax structure – at 37%.

The IMC 2018 was all about future, new technologies, new solutions and new collaborations and how to join hands with other industry stakeholders and government agencies to make lives better for your countrymen or, say, your customers. And yes, maintaining your bottomline as well. Visitors to IMC 2018 felt the event was not always the right platform to crib.

Airtel’s stall in the Hall No. B also wore a non-welcoming appearance for the visitors. Though the company was showcasing some of its 5G solutions like connected car, 5G Home etc, absence of experts to demonstrate the same to visitors was not expected. Even, the communications team was barely visible, who, typically are the face of their firms for the external world, and to media as well.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: