The sector continues to reel under acute financial stress, weighed down by nearly Rs 8 lakh-crore debt and bruising price wars reflected in slumping revenue and operating income. The older incumbent carriers, in particular, have incurred heavy losses, with 4G entrant Jio being the sole profitable company.

Ebitda of the industry declined 28% on-year in quarter ended June with older carriers suffering an 81% on-year crash. The stress level has triggered rapid sector consolidation with fringe players exiting and incumbent biggies Vodafone and Idea being forced to merge, leaving three players — newly-anointed Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Jio — as the only private ones vying for a 1.3-billion consumer market.

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