Airtel seeks govt support for telcos, says India needs 3 cos

NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel on Wednesday echoed rival Vodafone Idea’s plea for a government support for the telecom industry, asserting that a large country like India needs three private mobile operators.
At a time when industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, whose group runs the Vodafone Idea JV, has sought government intervention to bail the industry out of a financial turmoil, Airtel’s CEO Gopal Vittal made a similar plea.
Vittal said “there is clearly a situation of serious financial stress in the industry” which has seen one of the players (Voda Idea) telling the government that it may not be able to pay its dues coming up in March 2022. “We hope that the government does something to provide some relief to the industry.”
Justifying recent decisions to hike certain tariffs, Vittal said that consumer realisations are “abysmally low”. However, he indicated that the company may not initiate a broader tariff revision as it would blunt its competitiveness.
Responding to an analyst query on how Airtel perceives industry structure over next one-two years, and whether the company is prepared for a two-player market, Vittal said the market can easily accommodate three private players.

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