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Bharti Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal says tariffs in India are low and need to go up


Bharti Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal on Wednesday said telecom tariffs in India are low and need to go up. 

He also asserted that the industry need to become viable.

Describing 5G as a “long haul”, Vittal said that the company is not in any race to beat its drum on having the largest, fastest rollout, but instead is sharply focused on delivering good experience for its 5G customers. 

Airtel does not believe in higher 5G tariff, but will continue to strive for overall hike in tariffs, while keeping the service most affordable and high quality, added Vittal.

“We also understand that the needs of different segments of customers and really don’t believe in one-size-fits-all,” Vittal said at the second quarter earnings call. “For the telecom industry to continue to invest and deliver the digital vision of India, the industry needs to be viable and cross subsidisation, therefore or using the power of the balance sheet is not a sustainable proposition at the end.”

He also said that vibrant competition, affordable tariffs, and financial viability of the industry can all go hand in hand.

On a query of any tariff hike, Vittal said: “…this is not all in our hands, tariffs are very low in India, both the average revenue per user as well as rate per GB. If you plot both of those on two axis, then we are right at the bottom on both.”

“But it is not at all in our hands. I would say just say wait and watch. The question is not whether it will happen, it is when it will happen. We’ve already seen two rounds of tariff increase since the launch of Reliance Jio, and hopefully it will happen at some stage, not in the distant future,” he added.

On Tuesday, Bharti Airtel reported a 37.5% year-on-year fall in consolidated net profit at 1,341 crore for the September quarter, due to one-time exceptional charge.

Its revenue in the September quarter rose 7.3% year-on-year at 37,044 crore “backed by strong and consistent performance in India operations”. 

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Updated: 01 Nov 2023, 08:18 PM IST

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.