Telecom minister wants Airtel to invest Rs 80,000 crore and not Rs 60,000 crore

Ericsson India Broadband for All summit
Communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wants Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal to commit Rs 80,000 crore investment and not Rs 60,000 crore on networks.

On Monday, Bharti Airtel announced plans to invest Rs 60,000 crore or $9 billion in the next three years to beef up telecom networks.

Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “I am complimenting you (Sunil Mittal) for Rs 60,000 crore. They must be used quickly. I would hold you for your larger commitment that you said in July in the presence of prime minister Narendra Modi that you will invest Rs 80,000 crore. I hope you remember that.”

The telecom minister was speaking at an event “Broadband for All” organized by COAI and telecom network vendor Ericsson in Delhi.

He said there is a need for the telecom service operators to ramp up networks to improve service quality.

“I regret to say very frankly it took a lot of nudging on my part to all of you to publicly acknowledge that there is need for improvement.. spectrum is less but you need to improve network,” he said at the second edition of Ericsson India’s Broadband for All Summit.

The government is accountable to peoples convenience, the operators must rise to the occasion to reinforce their networks where infrastructure is lacking, operators must invest, he said.

“The execution on the National Broadband Policy, spectrum management, and evolution of framework for Internet of Things and Cloud based services are all key factors that will have a bearing on the impact of this ICT transformation in the country and therefore need to be focused on,” said Rajan Mathews, director general of COAI.

Ericsson Mobility Report said WCDMA / HSPA technology that covered more than 35 percent of the population in 2014 will increase to cover around 90 percent in 2020. 40 percent of the population is expected to be covered by LTE networks in India by 2020.

“To leverage the benefits of existing and new communication technologies like 5G for the country, India too will need to take a proactive approach – free up additional spectrum and lay out a spectrum roadmap well in advance so that operators and industry can prepare well and fully deliver using the transformative possibilities of ICT,” said Ulf Pehrsson, global head – Government & Industry Relations, Ericsson.

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