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As Jio overtakes Airtel, lower spectrum costs are critical for India’s MNOs

With Reliance Jio now the second largest mobile operator in India by subscriber numbers, market leader Vodafone Idea, and deposed former leader Bharti Airtel, are under more pressure than ever to reduce costs and launch new services that can steal customers back from the disruptive and low cost Jio. This puts them in a dilemma about 5G spectrum. They have repeated their threats to boycott the upcoming 5G spectrum auction if the regulator, TRAI, does not reduce the high reserve prices. Paying large sums for airwaves so soon after investing in 4G, and engaging in consolidation and price wars in response to Jio’s entry to the market, would intensify the MNOs’ already daunting financial challenges. But if they do not…

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