End 2G, cut taxes: Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Mittal have these two demands from Centre

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August 1, 2020 5:20 AM

Kumar Mangalam Birla, who heads Vodafone Idea, did not present his views, though his name was mentioned in the keynote speakers.

In contrast, Ambani did not raise the issue of high taxes and levies on the sector at all. In contrast, Ambani did not raise the issue of high taxes and levies on the sector at all.

As the country celebrates 25 years of mobile telephony, industry veterans Sunil Bharti Mittal and Mukesh Ambani seem to be pursuing different demands from the government for future viability and growth of the sector. While Mittal, who heads Bharti Airtel, is seeking government help in reducing taxes and levies on the sector, Ambani, who leads Reliance Jio, wants policy support to end 2G in the country.

During a webinar organised by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), Mittal said it is time for the government to ensure that this industry, which has had its ups and downs, is given due attention in the area of levies and taxes. “Taxes have generally been very high on this industry. It is important that this is reviewed thoroughly,” he said.

Further, Mittal said: “Telecom resources like spectrum, levies should not become a source for the exchequer, but should become a force multiplier in ensuring economic momentum becomes faster and gets accelerated. So, the government can earn its dues from other industries which are going to be riding on the back of this wonderful industry.”

In contrast, Ambani did not raise the issue of high taxes and levies on the sector at all. Instead, he focused on how Jio has made a significant contribution in bringing digital revolution at affordable rates to the largest number of mobile users in India in the last four years since its launch.

According to Ambani, as the country takes legitimate pride in the achievements of mobility in the last 25 years, this is also an occasion to look at the obstacles that have prevented Indian consumers from fully benefiting from the digital revolution. “Here I specifically refer to the fact that India still has 300 million mobile subscribers trapped in the 2G era. Their feature phones keep them excluded even from the basic uses of internet at a time when both India and the rest of the world are standing at the doorsteps of 5G telephony. I think necessary policy steps should be taken with utmost urgency to make 2G a part of history,” he said.

Kumar Mangalam Birla, who heads Vodafone Idea, did not present his views, though his name was mentioned in the keynote speakers.

When it comes to affordability, both Mittal and Ambani were on the same page. “Tariffs that we now apply in India are perhaps the most affordable in the world. Customers are enjoying over 15 GB of data usage per month at the most affordable rates anywhere on the globe. For less than Rs 200, people are accessing their applications, music, entertainment, vital government services, DBT access, financial inclusion, all that is being done for the vast majority of our country,” Mittal said.

Ambani said in the last few years, mobility has become affordable to all. “In 1995, the cost of a per-minute call from one cell phone was Rs 24 – Rs 16 for the caller and Rs 8 for the called. Now, voice calls are free without any time limit,” Ambani said.

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