In a sector, where a lot of existing companies aren't particularly happy about a certain new player in the market, Idea Cellular Managing Director Himanshu Kapania categorically stated that the regulating authority (TRAI) should ensure ‘same service for the same rules’ pointing out to the recent implementation of the interconnect usage charge (IUC).
Calling it the ‘biggest risk in India,’ He said that the regulating authority to create a level playing field for competition. He was addressing the Indian Mobile Congress 2017 (IMC) where he pointed out the financial stress in the sector and that the private sector is working at a breakneck speed. He also called for the need for an investment support of around Rs. 4-5 lakh crore.
"The private sector is working at breakneck speed in spite of the ongoing financial crisis. While it is good to discuss new technology like IoT and 5G network, need of the hour is to resolve the high cost of spectrum, without which we will be hostage of the past," he said.
"We are looking at installing over five lakh 4G BTS in the next three to four years. It will help in providing internet access to over 500,000 towns and villages, along with high speed broadband of around 50mbps as revealed. All of this requires an investment of around Rs.4 to 5 lakh crore," added Kapania.
Addressing the 'elephant in the room', Kapania raised concerns over a telecom operator "bundling data for free, offering voice calls for free," for the decline in revenue in the telecom industry, adding that the subsequent falling price of tariffs has lead to an increase in the pressure on the industry.
Expressing his dissent over the abolishment of interconnect usage charge (IUC) by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently, Kapania opined that this is further depleting the industry's profits as Indian telcos offer low data and call costs.
Talking about the shift towards a digital economy through the use of e-wallets and other measures, Kapania stated that it is necessary to ensure affordable prices to consumers and peaceful coexistence of 4G and 2G. He also highlighted the need to create a pro-investment environment, with almost 4-5 percent driven by investment in broadband.
However, Kapania reiterated that apart from the introduction and deployment of 5G, IoT and other technologies, availability of adequate and affordable spectrum is important, following the resolution of legacy prices.
(With inputs from ANI)