Telecom operators Airtel and Reliance Jio have spent much of the past year playing the blame game. They have had several fierce public disagreements over which operator provides the fastest LTE network in India; they have had issues with each other’s pricing strategies; and just this month, Airtel railed against the abolition of interconnect usage charges, a move it believes will help its rival Reliance Jio. Despite that, Reliance Industries Limited’s Managing Director Mukesh Ambani and Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal shared the stage on Wednesday and exchanged pleasantries, describing each other as friends.
That sighting took place at India Mobile Congress (IMC), the first edition of the event that’s designed to be along similar lines as the Mobile World Congress (MWC) that is held each year in Barcelona, Spain. The event is not affiliated with GSMA, the body that organises the MWC and satellite events across the world, but has been put together by Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), a group that represents most of India’s leading telcos.
More than 300 exhibitors, and hundreds of startups from across the country gathered across 15,000 square meters at Pragati Maidan in the India’s capital to demonstrate their products and services, while thousands of delegates from more than half a dozen nations roamed around the booths and asked for demos. It’s by far the biggest conference of its kind in India, Venugopal Iyengar, Chief Operating Officer at Apalya – an OTT video solutions company which counts Vodafone as a client – told Gadgets 360.
Interestingly, the booth that was drawing the most attention wasn’t that of a telco or a smartphone maker, but rather, a feature phone company – Detel. It sells a range of feature phones, with its least expensive model priced at just Rs. 299 ($4.5). “This is why we are here – to get the word out. The entire industry is here,” Munish Jindal, Vice President of Detel told Gadgets 360. Although you might not be familiar with the brand, Detel has already shipped close to a million of these handsets, Jindal said.
The event also saw executives from Google, Facebook, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Ericsson, Nokia, and HPamong others. Top government officials including Manoj Sinha, Minister of Communication; Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, and Law and Justice; Aruna Sundarajan, Secretary and Chairperson of Telecom Commission, Department of Telecommunications; were also present, among others. Many of them took part in various panels as they discussed emerging technologies and areas that still require much attention from all stakeholders.