Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal said on Tuesday the telecoms sector needed the ‘long overdue’ government support to maintain its current 3 + 1 structure, hinting at a back-up plan for beleaguered competitor Vodafone Idea .
The 3 + 1 structure refers to three private players – Jio, Airtel, VIL – and a public sector telecom operator – BSNL.
Problems such as unsustainable prices and low returns in a capital-intensive environment, coupled with legacy legal issues, have taken their toll, Mittal said in Airtel’s annual report for 2020-2021.
India continues to be a “promising destination” for long-term investors, he said. “We have the opportunity to transform India into a global leader in the digital economy. We must continue to evolve our policies to realize these opportunities while encouraging investment, entrepreneurship and innovation through collaboration, ”Mittal said, pledging“ Airtel is ready to play its role ”. The telecommunications sector has been one of the main catalysts for the transformation of the Indian economy over the past 25 years and has been instrumental in the pandemic in keeping a country of more than a billion connected, Mittal said , calling it an “exceptional feat”.
Airtel continues to have a healthy balance sheet with “enough and more” leeway to continue to invest strategically for growth, he said.
“As the Indian economy continues to digitize, great opportunities are emerging in areas such as data centers, submarine cable deployment, cloud services and cybersecurity. We will look to increase our investments in these areas over the next fiscal year, ”Mittal said. A solid foundation is in place to make Airtel a “truly digital-centric company,” he said, adding that the company has the ability to develop world-class digital platforms and solutions through internal engineering talent and strong partnerships with players including Amazon, Google, Verizon, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, Intel, IBM, Cisco and Apollo Hospitals.