industry

Industry ARPU needs to reach Rs 300, Trai intervention needed: Sunil Mittal


NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal said that over time, the average tariff per user needs to reach Rs 300, or $4, which would still be the lowest across the world, but would bring about a revival of the currently stressed telecom sector in India.

Speaking to reporters on Monday after a pre-Budget industry meeting with the finance minister and officials, Mittal said that a balance needs to be found between consumer interest and financial resources needed for investments. To this effect, he said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) needs to intervene and set a floor price.

Mittal’s statement comes a day after he met with the commerce industry minister, Piyush Goyal and sought a closure on the issue of telecom industry’s input tax credit worth Rs 37,000 crore stuck with the government, amongst other discussions.

Thursday, Mittal said that Indian consumers have been enjoying very low rates for a while, and while they will continue enjoying it, “we need to balance the industry’s need to invest and thus have funds to do so on one side and benefits of the consumer on the other”.

He added that the industry needs to reach Rs 300 revenue per person per month which could see the lower end of customers paying about Rs 100 and the higher end ones paying about Rs 450-500 per month, and yet consuming two to three times more data than anywhere else in the world.

“That’s the balance we need to get to try and Trai has to work on this because the industry has not been able to have an orderly mechanism to get to that point,” he added.

A day earlier, Mittal had said he will be fine if the regulator were to fix a floor for voice tariffs as well as for data.

Thursday, Mittal said that the industry needs funds as it has to invest in new technologies, including in 5G, for which auctions will be held in 2020. “We have to take the dividend of Digital India that cannot happen without telecom”.

Mittal though added that 5G auctions should not be held soon, due to the industry’s fragile health. The government plans to hold the next sale sometime in March-April.

Airtel, in the meantime, is in the process of raising $3 billion via equity and debt to pay off its adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues, which it needs to pay by January end. The company is facing dues of over Rs35,500 crore, but is hoping for relief from the Supreme Court.





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