Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal on Thursday said the telecom sector is under tremendous stress. He hopes the central government will ensure India's digital dream remains intact and that it supports the existence of at least three telecom operators in the country. Mittal's statement comes a day after the dwindling Vodafone Idea posted a hefty Q4 loss of Rs 7,023 crore.
Mittal also acknowledged the telecom industry needs tariffs to go up. He added Airtel would "not hesitate" to hike tariffs. However, he stated that hiking tariffs can't be done "unilaterally".
"To say telecom industry is in a bit of trouble is actually an understatement. It is in a tremendous amount of stress. I hope the government, the authorities, and telecom department focus on this issue and ensure India's digital dream remains intact through the provision of at least three operators," the Bharti Airtel chairman noted.
Mittal was speaking to reporters at a virtual event of OneWeb, which is a satellite communications company being managed by Bharti Global and the UK government.
Mittal explained that Bharti Airtel has raised funds in an adequate and timely fashion through equity and bonds. He conveyed the telecom major is in a strong position to serve the market in the future years.
"We never went into the woods at all. We are strong a company, many a time we are underestimated in our resolve," Mittal added. Though, Mittal admitted that the last 5-6 years have been brutal for the industry and the results are for everyone to see. "Ten operators gone out of business, two merged together...gasping for breath right now," Mittal said.
Mittal stated the telecom industry needs to be healthy to initiate work on providing 5G services and to deliver on India's digital dream.
"We will not hesitate to do it, but it can't be done unilaterally," said Mittal when asked if Bharti Airtel will consider raising tariffs.
"How long can you keep on killing each other, the point is when you have a return on capital, even by the best operator, at low single-digit and most of them struggling....I am not saying ...raising tariffs always sounds bad...just bring it back to where it was...enjoy 15 times consumption, but at least come back to old tariffs," added the Bharti Airtel chairman.
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