Games of Tones

Consolidation [एकत्रीकरण/ केंद्रीकरण] in India’s overcrowded telecommunications industry was perhaps inevitable [अनिवार्य]. What is interesting though is that the current wave of mergers and acquisitions, which started in November 2015 with Reliance Communications’ agreement to acquire Sistema’s Indian wireless business, has gained considerable momentum over the last 15 months with several more announcements — of deals struck or confirmation of ongoing merger negotiations — having been made. That the commercial start of services from the latest entrant, Reliance Jio, has been coterminous [सहसीमावर्ती] with this latest round of consolidation is not a simple coincidence. Given what some of its competitors have referred to as Jio’s “predatory” approach to pricing, the industry has found itself buffeted on the one hand by a sharp decline in earnings, and on the other by the high cost of servicing the debt that had helped incumbent [निर्भर] operators bid for and acquire the much-needed wireless spectrum at the government’s auction of airwaves. It is this financial bind that the industry finds itself in that Sunil Mittal, Bharti Airtel founder and chairman, alluded to at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week when he said that the return on capital deployed had dipped to low single-digit levels, making investment in the business unviable. Investors, he is reported to have quipped [चुटकी ली], would be better off putting their money in a bank and playing golf.

This is a far cry from the situation a little more than five years ago when as many as 12 private players jostled cheek by jowl with the two state-run telephone operators, BSNL and MTNL, as they vied [टकराहट होती] for a share of the country’s 893.8 million wireless subscribers as of December 2011. And while the market had expanded to almost 1.13 billion subscribers as of December 2016, the number of non-state mobile services providers had shrunk [कम करना] to 10, inclusive of Reliance Jio. With seven of the nine either in the process of being acquired or merged, or in talks to negotiate a deal, the industry is now finally poised to coalesce [संगठित होना] into four large private sector entities, a welcome development both from the industry and government perspective. Still, size alone may not guarantee the enlarged companies’ good health, especially given the ongoing fierce भयंकर] battle for market share. That the seriousness of the situation has not been lost on the Telecom Commission is best underscored by the fact that it has asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to ensure orderly growth in the sector. After all, a bruising and protracted price war, while certainly good for the consumers, is bound to extract a heavy price on the service providers’ financials, notwithstanding the deep pockets that the merged entities may command. That in turn risks further eroding the revenue the Centre earns from licence fees and spectrum usage charges, a fact cited by the Telecom Commission in its latest missive to TRAI. It is in no one’s interest to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Magical Words in the Editorial-

  1. Consolidation [एकत्रीकरण/ केंद्रीकरण] – combine (a number of things) into a single more effective or coherent whole.
  • Synonyms: consolidation, Gathering, colligation, cumulation, groupage.
  • Example: – In my opinion, your country has enormous potential to build andconsolidate an outstanding position as a European and international tourist destination.
  1. inevitable [अनिवार्य] – certain to happen; unavoidable.
  • Synonyms: unavoidable, inescapable, inexorable, ineluctable, assured, certain.
  • Example: – They put out such a defensive line-up, it was tempting to conclude that they had accepted theinevitable.
  1. coterminous [सहसीमावर्ती] – having the same boundaries or extent in space, time, or meaning.
  • Synonyms: conterminous, coextensive
  • Example: – It only emerges when sovereignty is notcoterminous with the boundaries of the major political units which constitute the system.
  1. incumbent [निर्भर] – necessary for (someone) as a duty or responsibility.
  • Synonyms: necessary for one to, essential that, required that, imperative that.
  • Example: – Elections in which an incumbent president is running typically are referenda on the job performance of theincumbent .
  1. quipped [चुटकी ली] – make a witty remark.
  • Synonyms: joke, epigram, sally.
  • Example: – At home he had been funny, sociable, always ready for aquip or a practical joke.
  1. vied [टकराहट होती] – compete eagerly with someone in order to do or achieve something.
  • Synonyms: compete, contend, contest, struggle, fight, battle, cross swords.
  • Example: – Competing organizationsvied for the loyalties of Baptists on the Arkansas frontier.
  1. shrunk [कम करना] – become or make smaller in size or amount; contract or cause to contract.
  • Synonyms: get smaller, draw back, recoil from, shrivel, reduce, quail, contract.
  • Example: – the workforce has shrunk to less than a thousand.
  1. coalesce [संगठित होना] – come together and form one mass or whole.
  • Synonyms: merge, unite, join together, combine, fuse, mingle, blend, amalgamate.
  • Example: There were different elements, of course; but somehow these individual elements seemed tocoalesce into one whole.
  1. fierce [भयंकर] – having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness.
  • Synonyms: ferocious, aggressive, intense, powerful, severe, tearing, rough, cutthroat,
  • Example: – The communities that play can displayfierce and irrational rivalries.

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