Reliance Jio had started charging its customers earlier this year and has been able to create a customer base of 138.61 million subscribers as of September 30.

Airtel still has the biggest subscriber base at 281 million followed by Vodafone with 207.4 million.

But the big worry is that the average revenue per user (ARPU) at both Airtel and Vodafone has tumbled to Rs 145 and Rs 146 per month from a year ago levels of close to Rs 200 each. In contrast, Reliance Jio claims an ARPU of Rs 156 a month.

The telecom regulator refused to step in and halt Reliance Jio from extending its free call and data offer for over seven sustained months.

Last week, Airtel's Sunil Mittal had told a television channel that such predatory practices would not have been tolerated in any other part of the world.

It is not the first time that Airtel has berated Reliance Jio for its sneak attack on the established players.

Back in May while announcing the fourth quarter results of the telecom giant, Airtel MD and CEO Gopal had said: "The sustained predatory pricing by the new operator (Reliance Jio) has led to a decline in revenue growth for the second quarter in a row. The telecom industry as a whole also witnessed a revenue decline for the first time ever on a full year basis."

But, at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Ambani came out with an even more ominous warning to his rivals when he said that Reliance Jio was well on its way to profitability -- which would challenge the traditional view that telecom players need deep pockets to stay in the fray and must factor in a years of losses.

"Jio results are declared every quarter now. You can see the trend. You watch the next few quarters. You will learn in January and you will learn in March," he said when asked when the telecom venture would break even.

He added: "I do not want to predict, but I think we are ahead of our schedule in terms of the returns that we are generating."

In the July-September quarter, Jio had reported a pre-tax profit of Rs 261 crore, its first-ever operating profit on standalone revenues of about Rs 6,147 crore. But it had a net loss of Rs 270.5 crore for the three months to September.

One reason Reliance Jio is now seeing a closer horizon to profits is because of the shakeout in the industry that has effectively brought down the serious players to just three: Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Jio.

Idea is already in talks to merge with Vodafone; Anil Ambani's Reliance Communications ha already decided t shut down its 2G and 3G operations across the country after its merger with Aircel was nixed. Aircel is scouting for a new partner and the speculation is that Airtel would be interested.

Ambani claimed that India, which was ranked 150th in the world in terms of mobile broadband adoption, "is now number one after the launch of Jio".

"Today, Indians consume more mobile broadband data than users in the US and China," he said. "If Data is Destiny, New India is well and truly ready for its new Tryst with Destiny."

"As Internet becomes accessible to all Indians, I believe we will be among the first to graduate to the Internet of Everything," he added. – Telegraph India 


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