IMC 2017: Sunil Mittal says Airtel to invest Rs 18,000 cr in digital infra

Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Mittal

Chairman of Bharti Airtel, Sunil Bharti Mittal on Wednesday stated that amid infrastructural development in the telecom sector, the company will be investing around Rs. 18, 000 to 20,000 crore this year towards the same.

Speaking at the Indian Mobile Congress 2017 (IMC) here, Mittal noted that while the government is aware of the challenges that the telecom sector is facing, building infrastructure, like in other sectors, will take time.

"India's time has come to showcase growth in digital economy. Government is acutely aware of the shortages of the telecom sector. Rs 50,000-60,000 crore is going into building hard infrastructure each year. However, building Infrastructure, like in other sectors, will take time," he said.

Further, he called for support from the government while laying down infrastructure, adding that 'red carpet treatment' may be required from states and municipalities to lay fibre and mobile towers. He also stated that government policies will decide how fast the digital wave will spread.

"We will need government support while we lay down infrastructure," he said.

Referring to his 'good friend' Mukesh Ambani's stance on collaborating for the benefit of the consumers, Mittal highlighted that competing for cost is taking place, and there is a need to collaborate for infrastructural enhancement, adding that 'nobody can do it alone'.

"Like Mukesh Ambani said, we all have to collaborate and no one can do it alone, similarly we have to come together for the benefit of consumers. Together with Mukesh Ambani, we will build technology for the future," he assured.

However, Mittal also highlighted his previous meetings with the who's who of the Silicon Valley, particularly Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who seemed to have great hopes from India.

"India's time has come to showcase the growth in digital economy. At the cusp of exciting developments in India, one important part is that attention towards India is large. India will be the market of 3+1 operators, offering growth. The top tech honchos of the Silicon Valley are looking up to India with big hopes," he said.

Meanwhile, Gopal Vitthal, CEO and MD of Bharti Airtel re-iterated that the telecom sector needs large investment, and said in the last two years, investment amount has superseded investments from the last 20 years.

"In the last two years, we have invested more than what we invested in 20 years. The telecom industry needs massive investment. Access to government buildings for fibre network is a big pain. Also, cost of spectrum is very high and cost of call is lowest in the world. This needs to be changed," he said.

IMC 2017 is jointly organised by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and K AND D Communications Ltd. This first-of-its-kind event is supported by the Ministry of Communication (Department of Telecommunications), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Skill Development and Entrepreneurship amongst others.


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