The cost of operating in India is “escalating” and needs to be made more affordable by the government, urged Bharti Airtel’s CEO Gopal Vittal.
Speaking at an industry event, Vittal, who heads up the company’s operations in India and South Asia, commented on the increasing cost of putting up and running networks in the country, which must be reviewed in order to fulfil the government’s Digital India initiative, reports Economic Times (ET).
Digital India, launched by prime minister Narendra Modi’s government last year, is designed to improve digital infrastructure in the country and connect rural areas with high-speed internet networks.
Vittal added that the industry will need to make “substantial” investment to fulfill the government’s ambitious vision, and connect 500 million Indians in the next two to three years.
“[The] cost of doing business is escalating and it must be looked at,” he said. “Right of way, fibre laying and complex approval processes need to be simplified.”
He also touched on the need to educate users in India on data usage, amid apprehensions in the market over mobile broadband.
The ET reports operators in the country are seeking government support to expand their networks amid pressure from regulators for an improvement to quality of service, given the ongoing row over dropped calls in the country.
Vodafone India CEO Sunil Sood also weighed into the issue, stating the telecoms sector is “keen to work with the government to mitigate quality of service concerns, and to make data services affordable,” he said.
Vittal was yesterday named the new chairman of GSM industry board Cellular Operators Association of India.