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Regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Sunil Mittal pitches for tariff hike

'I think we need to have a balance between requirement of investments and the consumer on the other side'

Our Special Correspondent New Delhi Published 19.12.19, 06:42 PM
 Sunil Mittal and with GMR Group founder G. M. Rao in New Delhi on Thursday.

Sunil Mittal and with GMR Group founder G. M. Rao in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI

Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal sought the intervention of the telecom regulator to ensure that mobile tariffs move up and improve the financial health of the sector.

“Consumers have been enjoying low rates, they will continue to enjoy low rates, but I think we need to have a balance between requirement of investments and the consumer on the other side,” Mittal told reporters after meeting finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman for pre-budget consultations.

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“My view is Rs 200 ARPU, is eventually going to Rs 300 ARPU... at the lower end Rs 100 per customer a month for consuming rich data, voice and other services, and on the upper hand Rs 450-500... blended eventual landing point of Rs 300, which will still be $4 a month, and by far the lowest anywhere in the world, and yet consuming two-three times more data than anywhere else in the world,” Mittal said.

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

“We are unnecessarily killing this industry in a manner and way that is not conducive for our industry, and that’s why we need Trai intervention,” Mittal added.

The comments of the Airtel chief come just days after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) initiated talks to prescribe a floor price for call and data, and also deferred by a year the scrapping of the charge paid by mobile phone users for calls made to rival networks.

The regulator has also sought consultation on issues such as the methodology to fix a floor price and how to ensure that it does not benefit a section of operators with windfall profits. It has also sought suggestions on whether floor prices should be fixed for both data and voice services.

The outcome is likely to lead to a further hike in mobile call and data rates as the industry wants average revenue per user to reach Rs 300 per month from about Rs 125 over a period of two years.

A better revenue realisation per user will offer a much-needed breather to the stressed telecom industry where debt levels have soared to Rs 7.8 lakh crore.

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