Telecom Tariffs In India At “Absurdly Low Level”: Airtel Top Boss

Telecom Tariffs In India At 'Absurdly Low Level': Airtel Top Boss

New Delhi:

Tariffs in the Indian telecom industry are at an “absurdly low level” compared to other parts of the world, Bharti Airtel Managing Director Gopal Vittal said on Wednesday as he strongly advocated “tariff improvements” to lift return ratios.

Mr Vittal, during Q4 earnings call of Airtel, further said he was glad to see Vodafone Idea’s recent capital raise, and asserted that India will be well served with three private players operating in the market.

“The return that the industry really needs is predicated on tariff repair, this is really the heart of the problem that we have today, our pricing and tariffs are at an absurdly low level relative to any other part of the world. So, tariff repair is needed for return ratios to improve… it doesn’t matter which technology it comes from,” Mr Vittal said.

He admitted that there is limited monetization on 5G, but went on to say the company sees it in the context of overall return on the business.

“…the fact is that 5G is future-proof technology, so to that extent we are advancing the capex, that would have happened anyway,” he said.

On rival Vodafone Idea’s massive fund raise, the top boss of Airtel said he was happy to see VIL had raised money and that he wished them well.

“India will be well served if it has three operators… three private operators working. (On) Whether we need to push harder, we are pushing hard everyday, so it is an ongoing effort… it is a brutally competitive market , ever since I have been around and ever since the company has been around,” Vittal said.

The volatile telecom market sees its share of ups and downs, he said, adding, “you need to be on top of your game in terms of execution, to deliver sustainable performance”.

Airtel on Tuesday posted a 31 per cent drop in consolidated profit to Rs 2,072 crore in the March quarter mainly due to devaluation of the Nigerian Naira.

The consolidated revenue from operations of the Sunil Mittal-led telco increased 4.4 per cent to Rs 37,599.1 crore during the quarter under review from Rs 36,009 crore a year earlier.

Bharti Airtel’s average revenue per user (ARPU) — a key matrix for telecom operators — grew 8 per cent to Rs 209 from Rs 193 a year ago. On a sequential basis, the APRU was marginally higher than Rs 208 in the December quarter.

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