‘Spectrum at ₹50,000 crore for 100 MHz way over the top’
Bharti Airtel on Thursday said it will take at least a couple of years for 5G to have any significant application in India.
At the current indicative reserve price, 5G spectrum is “very expensive” and does not make for a good business case, it said.
At the company’s Q1 earnings call, Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, India & South Asia, said telecom tariffs needed to go up, and the only question was that of right timing.
“We’ve always said that ARPUs need to get to ₹200 and finally to ₹300… The tariffs have to go up… The question really is the right timing for it,” Mr. Vittal said.
He said the reserve spectrum price, as indicated by TRAI, “is very, very expensive and we will not be able to afford it at those levels.”
“We need to be ready when the ecosystem is ready but there is no point in being too ahead of the game. We believe it will be at least a couple of years before 5G has any meaningful significance in India,” Mr. Vittal said. He added that the “fundamental issue in 5G is that the cost of the spectrum at ₹50,000 crore for a 100 megahertz, [which] is just way over the top for any kind of business model to work.”
Asked about the impact on Chinese equipment vendors amid the possibility of a ban, Mr. Vittal said Bharti Airtel worked with all partners including Chinese partners, European and American workers.
“Many of them bring solutions that are unique. We also look at the right commercial models, which matter in a market like India.. .we are committed to continue to work with all our partners. That said, if there is any government notification that emerges then we will abide by the law of the land.”
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