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Posted at: Sep 28, 2017, 12:07 AM; last updated: Sep 28, 2017, 12:07 AM (IST)

4G coverage to beat 2G in a year, says Mukesh Ambani

High taxes, spectrum cost, IUC cut hitting industry: Old telcos
4G coverage to beat 2G in a year, says Mukesh Ambani
Ministers Manoj Sinha (L), Ravi Shankar Prasad (2L) and Mukesh Ambani (R) listen to Rajan Anandan, VP, Google, during the India Mobile Congress in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI

New Delhi, September 27

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani, who shook up the telecom sector with his free voice calling and data plans, today said 4G telecom coverage in India will surpass that of 2G in a year.

Ambani is optimistic that India, riding on the back of digital revolution, will grow to a $7-trillion economy in the next 10 years, from $2.5 trillion, and rank among the top three economies in the world.

“Data is the oxygen of a digital economy. We cannot deprive Indians of this vital life-sustaining resource. We have to provide ubiquitous access to high-speed data at affordable prices,” he emphasised. He made these remarks at the India Mobile Congress here today.

The RIL chairman made the point that it has to be ensured every Indian has access to an affordable smartphone that connects him to limitless knowledge and the power of the Internet.

India, Ambani said, has leapfrogged from a lowly 155th in mobile broadband penetration to being the world’s largest mobile data consuming nation in just one year.

“Mobile Internet and cloud computing are the foundational technologies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” he said.

Meanwhile, seeking immediate relief for the stressed telecom sector, older operators — Airtel and Idea Cellular today slammed high levies, increase in spectrum cost and regulatory norms.

“Taxation on industry is very high. It is in the range of 29-32%. Spectrum cost is one of the highest and tariff being one of the lowest. All of this need to change to realise dream and vision of Digital India,” Bharti Airtel MD and CEO for India and South Asia, Gopal Vittal said. “The cost of spectrum is among the highest in the world and tariffs being the lowest in the world,” he said.

Idea CEO Himanshu Kapania said recent market developments have drastically altered industry dynamics, resulting in the sector passing through a phase of severe “financial and mental stress”. Terming the regulatory and financial issues being faced by the sector as the “elephant in the room that no one is talking about”, he flagged the recent cut in interconnect usage charge (IUC), firm spectrum prices and high levies like licence fee and GST as big constraints. — PTI


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