With Reliance Jio launching aggressive 4G plans in India, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said the consumer has always benefitted whenever a tariff war has been unleashed in the country and dismissed concerns that such a pricing structure will impact the government’s revenue.
“If you look at the history of the telecom sector over the last 18-20 years, whenever a tariff war has been unleashed, it has benefited the consumer.
“I believe that consumer is the king and any government that works for the people will agree to this,” Sinha said.
He was responding to a question here on the tariff war unleashed by Reliance Jio, the telecom venture of Reliance Industries, which is offering free voice calls and data at low price.
Sinha, who addressed the Indian community at the Indian Consulate yesterday, said the telecom sector in India is competitive and if Reliance Jio will make voice calls available at cheap rates, other companies will have to compete to give better quality and rates.
“I feel this will be beneficial for the country,” he said.
Sinha, 55, sought to allay concerns expressed in some quarters that such a tariff structure will impact the government’s revenue.
He said statistics show that may be for the first 3-4 months the revenue will be less but ultimately the government revenue will increase.
“The more healthy competition there is, the better it will be,” he said adding there is no need to get concerned over the low tariff structures.
“Telecom operators have been preparing for 4G” and if one “operator has come with full preparation, others will also follow suit,” he added.
Early this month, Reliance Jio announced free voice calls and free national roaming along with rock-bottom data prices on the new Reliance Jio network.
Sinha told the gathering at the Consulate that India’s telecom sector has implemented significant reforms over the last two years, since the Narendra Modi government took office.
Most significant among them will be the mega auction of spectrum in a transparent manner next month.
“Many reforms have been implemented in the telecom sector over the last two years. Before the Modi government came into power, there was an environment of trust deficit in the country, particularly in the telecom sector.”
But now the sector has emerged from the atmosphere of trust deficit and domestic as well as foreign investors are keen to invest in the sector.
He said in the spectrum auction, which “will be completely transparent”, the government will put up for auction 2350 MH spectrum in seven bands. Sinha said the seven telecom operators in the country, including Idea,Vodafone, Airtel, Aircel, R Com and Reliance Jio, have submitted their forms for participation in the auction and he has given them approval for the same.
Sinha, who is also Minister of State for Railways, said the government is undertaking significant investments in the railway sector to complete transform the sector.
He said the government is targeting putting in place on-demand reservation by 2020, eliminating unmanned railway crossings and also having a goods train time-table.
He said time-table based goods trains have been started in five cities on pilot basis.
“I feel that the Indian railways is moving ahead to a complete transformation, making use full of technology,” he said.
Sinha added that people in India have a lot of expectations from Modi and his government.
“They expect all that could not be accomplished in the last 60 years should be achieved in 2-2.5 years,” he said adding that the government is working to bridge the development gap and boost economic growth in the country.
“If India has to eliminate poverty, it will have to clock a double digit growth rate of 10 per cent and above not for the just the next 2-5 years but 20 years,” he said.