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Floor price, cut in levies needed to restore telcos’ financial health: CEOs

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New Delhi: Top telecom industry leaders have called for a floor price and sharp reductions in telecom levies and airwave costs to restore the financial health of the debt-laden telecom sector.

Speaking at the ET Telecom Digital Telco Virtual Summit 2020 on Friday, these executives also called on the regulator to ensure there is no predatory pricing and underlined the need for easier access to connectivity and the ironing out of right of way (RoW) glitches to help the Digital India push.

Vodafone Idea CEO Ravinder Takkar said that with the AGR issue behind, it’s imperative that the National Communications Digital Policy-2018 is speedily implemented, though this could only happen “through a light-touch regulatory approach, along with lower taxation levels for the industry.”

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At present, the financially stressed industry pays more than Rs 30 of every Rs 100 earned toward telecom levies and taxes.

Bharti Infratel Chairman Akhil Gupta underlined the need for “setting a floor price as a temporary measure to restore the financial health of the industry. At least for the next three to four years, a floor price should be fixed…thereafter, as things settle down, it can be taken off.”

Bharti Airtel’s chief executive Gopal Vittal called on the government to expedite policy measures to bring in affordable and easy access to connectivity, and underlined the need for uniform RoW rules to boost broadband penetration.

“The most critical requirement for Digital India is easy and affordable access to the RoW so that we can reach customers and give them services they deserve,” Vittal said at ETTelecom’s virtual event.

The telecom industry, comprising telcos and tower firms, have been demanding a uniform right of way (RoW) policy following huge variations in infrastructure deployment costs in states as well as delayed clearances, Vittal said.

He added that there’s clearly much more to be done to serve India better to improve India’s productivity and ensure every Indian benefits. “We are uniquely positioned to deliver this through digital technologies and partnerships we strike,” the Airtel CEO said.

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