At the FICCI Frames 2023 conference in Mumbai, Bharti Airtel CEO, Gopal Vittal, emphasized the need for collaboration between direct-to-consumer OTT players and telecom operators like Airtel to overcome distribution challenges. He pointed out that different regulations for various content delivery pipelines pose challenges to the business model that OTT platforms operate on, and that a change is necessary to avoid perishing. However, Vittal stressed that Airtel is not in competition with content companies and aims to help OTT players reach its customer base of 330 million.
Regarding 5G rollout, Vittal confirmed that Airtel has launched its 5G services in 3500 towns and plans to extend its Airtel 5G Plus to 7000 towns and almost 100,000 villages by March 2024. However, monetization challenges and resulting ARPU growth will only happen with tariff hikes, and at present, both Airtel and competitor Reliance Jio are offering 5G services for free. Vittal added that Airtel is committed to helping OTT players overcome distribution and monetization challenges and can help solve the distribution problem.