India Mobile Congress, IMC, 2018
The inaugural session of the second edition of IMC was attended by major industry players:
– Jio’s Mukesh Ambani, the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries
– Vodafone-Idea Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and Vivek Badrinath,
– Regional CEO for Africa Middle East Asia Pacific, Vodafone Group.
The conference was earlier inaugurated by the Communications Minister Manoj Sinha. IT Minister Ravishankar Prasad, Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu also were present on the occasion.
The structure of the telecom industry has changed ever since Reliance Jio entered the market in September 2016. The resulting radical change in the telecom industry over the past two years and its sentiment became visible at the second edition of the India Mobile Congress.
Vodafone-Idea Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla said India was on the verge of becoming a digital economy and the company was committed to making ‘Digital India’ a reality.
Balesh Sharma, chief executive officer of newly created Vodafone-Idea Ltd, too complained about high taxes and low tariffs. He said the telecom industry was bleeding and, at some stage, this had to change. Asked about tariffs and if they were sustainable in launching services, he said the tariffs were not affordable and new services could not be launched. He, however, said the company would keep competing.
Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal stated that :
– The high rate of GST (18%), license fees and spectrum prices in the telecom sector contradict Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a digitally-empowered India,
– Telecom is among the most-taxed sectors globally,
– For mobile operators in India, out of every Rs. 100 earned, nearly Rs. 37 go towards one form of levy or the other.
Mittal, however, said that the recently released National Digital Communications Policy focuses on the concerns of the industry, which would help in rationalising the tax and other charges along with easing the merger process.
He said, “The world is moving towards two or three operators in every country and I am delighted that India now has come to a point where we have one state operator and three private mobile operators serving over 1.2 billion people.
It is widely acknowledged that Jio has revolutionised the mobile broadband sector. Many operators have been forced to shut shop or merge with other entities. Bharti Airtel has acquired Telenor and Tata Teleservices whereas Jio has taken the assets of Reliance Communications as the firm stopped offering wireless services. Another operator, Aircel, has gone for bankruptcy.
Jio’s Mukesh Ambani views the situation differently. He is in contrast to that of Mittal.
Ambani mentioned connecting everybody in the country at most affordable rates. He did not say anything on the taxation and levies.
He stated that:
– India had moved from 155th rank in mobile broadband penetration to number one position in mobile data consumption in the world in less than two years,
– This is the fastest transition anywhere in the world from 2G/3G to 4G,
– By 2020 we will be a fully-4G country and ready for 5G ahead of others,
– Jio is committed to connecting everyone and everything, everywhere, always with the highest quality and the most affordable price.
Ambani aims for India to rise from a lowly 135th rank to be among the top three nations in fixed broadband at a pace that will surprise the world.