Mukesh Ambani urges government to take necessary policy steps to make India 2G-mukt

KOLKATA: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani called on the government to speed up policy measures to ensure the rapid end of 2G mobile technology in India. Such a development could hit legacy rivals Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, which have a total 300 million 2G users critical to their revenue streams, and only a day earlier Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal had said the company had no plans of switching off its 2G networks.

“I think necessary policy steps should be taken with utmost urgency to make 2G a part of history,” Ambani said, underlining his call for “a 2G-mukt” India. RIL’s phone unit Reliance Jio, which entered the market in September 2016, only offers 4G services.

India has 300 million mobile users with feature phones trapped in 2G era and deprived of “basic uses of internet” as the world is on the doorstep of 5G telephony, Ambani said Friday at an industry webinar marking 25 years of Indian mobile telephony. He told telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad it was time to spot “obstacles that have prevented Indian consumers and Indian society from fully benefiting from the digital revolution”

Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of struggling telco Vodafone Idea, had also been scheduled to speak as per the invitation but didn’t attend.


Addressing the event, Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal urged the government to cut telecom levies and spectrum costs that are adding to financial stress in the debt-laden telecom industry. “It’s also time for the government to ensure this industry, which has had its ups and downs, is given due attention in the area of levies and taxes, that have generally been very high on this industry,” Mittal said. One of the first private investors in the industry, Mittal also underlined the importance of India taking the lead in local telecom manufacturing and boasting local value-addition levels.

Mittal said it’s important that “telecommunication resources like spectrum and levies” don’t become “a source for the exchequer, but instead should be a force multiplier to ensure the economic momentum becomes faster and gets accelerated”. The industry says it pays Rs 30 of every Rs 100 earned as taxes and levies.

He highlighted the critical role telecom networks have to play for the country’s development, going forward.

“What we really are looking forward to in the next 25 years is IoT connectivity, lowlatency connectivity, a full 5G-enabled network across the country ensuring that digital payments, online activities, e-commerce, health services, agriculture services, the government subsidies going into mobile accounts are all effectively done through a robust mobile network,” Mittal said.

Ambani’s comments on 2G came just a day after Airtel’s Vittal ruled out any immediate plans to switch off its 2G networks, saying such a decision could only be taken when those services stopped generating meaningful revenue for the company, which definitely wasn’t the case now.

Jio aims to reach 500 million users in three years, a number that would require successfully targeting the 300 million feature phone users. The company recently signed a pact with Google Inc to jointly develop affordable 4G and possibly even 5G smartphones. Under the partnership, Google will provide optimisations to its Android operating system and the Play Store for smartphones that Jio will launch in the market.

Mukesh Ambani urges government to take necessary policy steps to make India 2G-mukt Mukesh Ambani urges government to take necessary policy steps to make India 2G-mukt Reviewed by TechCO on 8/03/2020 Rating: 5

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