Billionaire Gautam Adani the port and airport owner who’s so far had nothing to do with telecom will bid for 5G spectrum in this month’s auction.
Six years, ago it was another tycoon Mukesh Ambani who disrupted India’s wireless market with cheap data and free calls. He’s now the market leader with 410 million subscribers.
Should Ambani now prepare for an Adani assault? They’re rivals who have so far managed to move in separate orbits.
Ambani built up scale in consumer businesses like telecom and retail to shed the group’s overdependence on refining and petrochemicals.
Adani went after industrial and utility-scale customers in transportation, coal and power. But they now have overlapping ambitions, for instance in renewables and media.
If Adani does decide on a telecom entry by buying the struggling telecom player, it will still require billions of dollars of capital expenditure to backfill the telco’s missing investment.
There’s nothing more disquieting for an industry than to know that the hard-won peace of Amani's Jio telecom will probably not last long.