The two icons of the telecom industry, Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Mittal, whose firms Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel respectively have been engaged in a bitter trade war, described each other as “good” and “dear” friends. During the India Mobile Congress (IMC), both the business leaders displayed bonhomie by shaking hands with each other, according to PTI. Ambani’s Reliance Jio and Mittal’s Bharti Airtel have been at loggerheads on issues like free voice and data offers, points of interconnect and cut in mobile call termination charges. In the event, both the leaders called for forging partnerships to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of a Digital India come true.
In his address, Ambani referred to Mittal as a “good friend.” He said: “We must break silos and forge partnerships. No corporate, nor the government, can do it alone. Together, we can achieve the unimaginable… Let’s not forget India provides a big enough opportunity for all of us to grow and prosper together. The opportunity to pave the path for our nation’s progress and create a better quality of life for every Indian beckons us,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. Earlier, the incumbent operators like Airtel, Idea had blamed the newcomer Jio for the worsening financial health of the telecom sector.
Calling RIL chief Ambani a “dear friend,” Mittal advocated a “collaborative” approach. “Clearly, as Mukesh pointed out, none of us can do it alone…We all have to come together. While we compete head-on for benefit of cusumers, we have to collaborate amongst ourselves,” Mittal said. To create robust ecosystem such collaboration would be essential, he added.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Mittal said: “if there are going to be three players, we all have to build ecosystem together as much as we can”. On industry’s differences over the impending cut in call connect rates, he said “Those issues have to be kept aside. We have to build India’s digital dream and that is what we are working on”.
Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha on his part hoped that the two giants will come together for realising the ‘Digital India’ dream.