Airtel to lead tariff hikes for healthy valuations, UK award recognises India’s rise: Sunil Mittal

New Delhi, Feb 29 – Sunil Bharti Mittal, who became the first Indian to be knighted by Britain’s King Charles III, said on Thursday that Airtel will take the lead in raising telecom tariffs if market signals are perfect to keep valuations healthy, while ensuring better return on investments.

Airtel Founder and Chairman said, “We have always said we need to go to Rs 300 ARPU (average revenue per user) from Rs 200 now.”

“Valuations need to be healthy. The tariff needs to be suitable to give rewards to the shareholders and a decent return on capital,” Mittal told NDTV Profit in an interview. “That has been woefully short.”

The company’s ARPU grew 2.5 per cent sequentially to Rs 208 in the third quarter, with 7.4 million growth in its 4G subscribers.

Airtel has spent about Rs 40,000 crore on the 5G spectrum and an equal amount on rolling out the network and more needs to be done, according to Mittal.

He also said that Bharti Airtel-backed satellite internet company OneWeb is aiming to reach remote regions and offer rates close to terrestrial telecom.

“Our ground station is ready in Mehsana in Gujarat and awaiting allocation of spectrum for satcom so that services can be launched”.

With the Leo constellation of satellites, pricing has been brought down while helping them provide global coverage.

On the honorary knighthood, Mittal said it “recognises India’s rise in the world”.

According to him, Indian businesses are recognised as good corporate citizens in the UK and the country has been a natural choice to set up operations.

“The UK has always been a natural choice for Indian businesses. It’s only natural that we looked at the UK for business opportunities.”

A lot of progress has been made in the free trade agreement (FTA) discussions between India and the UK.

“I will try from my side to ensure the FTA is a win-win for both the countries,” he said.


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