Pitching for higher tariffs, Bharti Airtel MD and CEO Gopal Vittal on Tuesday said rates of mobile services were unsustainable and needed to be increased.
Snubbing Reliance Jio's move to charge 6 paise per minute for voice calls made by its users on other networks, Gopal Vittal said that interconnection usage charges (IUC) are not part of tariff but clearing charges among operators to transmit calls, reported news agency PTI
His comments come in the backdrop of Jio's move to charge its users 6 paisa a minute for voice calls to other rival networks to recover the IUC it pays its rivals. However, Jio promised to provide free data of equal value to offset the burden on its consumers.
"We believe tariffs are unsustainable. We believe tariffs need to go up. We have always maintained this stand," Vittal said on the sidelines of India Mobile Congress.
Commenting on a media query on Reliance Jio's move he said, "IUC has nothing to do with tariff. It is a clearing house, cost of carrying calls. It is a bilateral thing settled among carriers. Over the last 20 years, IUC has always been absorbed."
Reliance Jio has claimed that it has paid Rs 13,500 crore to other operators as IUC charges over the past three years. Since it did not charge its customers for voice calls, the company had to bear this entire expense.
On spectrum auction, Vittal said the cost proposed for the next round of auction is also very high and unaffordable to do 5G business. He called for an enabling policy framework for the telecom industry to attract mega investments needed to meet aspirations of Digital India programme.
"If investments don't come in this industry, we will not meet the aspirations that Digital India has. In the last five years, the investment that has happened in this industry needs to be put back again in the next five years," he said.
"Investment climate and investment must be attractive for investors. This means investors should get return on what they invest," Vittal added.
Edited by Chitranjan Kumar with PTI inputs