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Telecom industry is on the cusp of a massive revolution: Airtel CEO
September, 27th 2017

The India Mobile Congress (IMC) kicked off here today in which the first session started with a CEO conclave where top officials spoke about not only future technology, but also hurdles at the policy levels.

Bharti Airtel's CEO and MD Gopal Vittal said that the industry is on the cusp of a massive revolution. In the last 3-4 years, a billion smartphones were added from 300 million earlier. There are also better and cheaper devices in these last few years, he said.

With the competition rising, there have also been some changes in the industry and from eight operators, it is now down to 3-4 operators in a year.

However, he also said that the RoC of one per cent is worrying. He also said there needs a massive investment for newer technologies to meet the demand in future.

Vittal said the network will double in the next couple of years and for that technology like self-optimising networks are needed. "We need an enabling ecosystem, devices, etc," he said.

On the policy side, he said the government needs to help in ease of doing business such as right of way and mergers and acquisitions at a better pace. The financial state of the industry is also not good because of high taxes, high cost of spectrum and low mobile tariffs.

Vodafone India MD and CEO, Sunil Sood said that the future success of India on the world stage depends highly on telecommunications as it contributes 6 per cent to India's GDP.

Convergence of technologies like machine to machine (M2M) and Internet of things (IoT) are dependent on telecom. Therefore, for India to succeed it is essential that the telecom sector is in a good shape.

Talking about better future for the telecom industry, Himanshu Kapania, MD, Idea Cellular, said that there is an urgent requirement of support from the Telecom Ministry for bringing down the costs of licence fee, SUC and reducing GST to 5 per cent.

"Future cannot be on a good path if such things continue. Private sectors are working on a breakneck speed and we need the support of the government," he said.

He said the industry is seeding for a fast internet network also.

'Better technology needed'

Mathew Oommen, President Network, Global Strategy and Service Development, Reliance Jio, said that the industry needs to work towards better technology for the growing internet environment.

The industry needs to bring open source and technologies like IoT and artificial intelligence at the most affordable price.

Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary, Telecom, said: "Mobile is way more than a mobile and far more than a mobile so that we can deliver quality education and healthcare eCommerce on the next three-four years.''

"Make in India is very important for government. How can we establish India as a manufacturing hub. Can we emerge as a global telecom leader. Creating next generation of IPR. How can India acquire a leadership position?," she asked the telecom operators, indicating what can be done in future.

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