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Telecom sector deserves viable tariffs

Tariffs in the Indian telecom market have to be “better” to the extent that they allow the industry to launch new technologies and roll out 5G with good quality services, Softbank India Country Head Manoj Kohli said, batting for “viable tariffs” for the sector.

Speaking at the IVCA Maximum India Conclave (MIC), Kohli noted that the telecom reforms package announced recently was “required” and will help the sector gear up for the 5G revolution in the country.

“I believe that these tariffs have to be better, how much better I can”t say, that telcos have to decide, but better, to the extent that industry can launch new technologies, launch 5G with good quality,” he said.

The former Airtel top executive said the viability of the sector was in doubt in the past but the government”s support and commitment will drive long-term health of the market.

“I don”t want to talk on behalf of any telco because I”m not in the telecom sector now, but I can say that the sector deserves viable tariffs,” he added.

The government recently announced a blockbuster relief package for the stressed telecom sector that includes a four-year break for companies from paying statutory dues, permission to share scarce airwaves, change in the definition of revenue on which levies are paid and 100 per cent foreign investment through the automatic route.

The measures, aimed at providing relief to companies such as Vodafone Idea (VIL) that have to pay thousands of crores in unprovisioned past statutory dues, also include the scrapping of Spectrum Usage Charge (SUC) for airwaves acquired in future spectrum auctions.

Talking about 5G in India, Kohli said the rollout of the high-speed services will be fast.

“The recent package which the government has released…was required. Telecom is very critical, just like the power sector, telecom is a very critical infrastructure for the country…it is much more critical for progressing our GDP to a much higher level,” he noted.

Kohli said the industry is preparing for 5G rollout and added that “readiness is quite good in India”.

He observed that telecom operators will have to transform themselves, going beyond being an infrastructure provider to become a “convergence leader”.

“Data and content will rule the future because consumer is not interested in voice services. Voice is yesterday… you will see far higher degree of data usage for higher degree of content usage, far more apps for everything we need…” he said. PTI


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