“The government must also look at rationalising the levies on the sector and close the long-standing legal disputes which are a drag on operators' performance,” Mittal said, apparently referring to the AGR dispute.
"While it’s clear that the worst may be behind for India’s telecom industry, we are yet to emerge from the woods. India still has some of the lowest data tariffs globally and the industry is barely able to cover the cost of capital. It requires much more support to repair the deep damage to its finances and make it viable for telecom operators to invest in future technologies," Mittal said in a message to Airtel shareholders.
"Though the recent tariff increase has provided some cushion to the industry, we are still way below the levels to make the industry viable, said Mittal, 62.
"Given the commendable job it (telecom industry) has done to keep India connected, I hope the Government will look into the urgent needs of the operators."
Airtel’s Annual Report 2019-20 said that despite the coronavirus and lockdowns to contain the disease, the company has held on to its market share.
The company said it raised more than USD 8 billion over the year through rights issue, Airtel Africa IPO, Perpetual Bond, QIP (qualified institutional placement) and FCCB (foreign currency convertible bonds).
"The Indian telecom industry is now at a crucial transformational stage. From multiple players trying to claim shares of the market, now, after extensive consolidations, we have entered a 3+1 player arena. Yet, if our journey till date is any indication, we are confident about holding our ground," said the company’s report.
had more than 423 million customers across its operations at the end of March 2020. It owns and operates more than 42,053 telecom towers under its subsidiary Bharti Infratel Limited (on a standalone basis) with presence across all 22 telecom circles.