The new tariff order brought forth by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has led to more complexities for the DTH players and consumers and has not benefitted any stakeholder, said Gopal Vittal, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Bharti Airtel.
Vittal said the excessive regulation has bought the industry to its knees. He issued these statements while announcing the company’s Quarter 4, 2022 results.
“The new tariff order brought by TRAI a few years ago mandated every minuscule aspect of pricing in an industry which was managed until then very simply through forbearance. This created a mind-boggling amount of complexity for the DTH players and even more importantly for the customer with no benefit to any stakeholder,” Vittal said.
He also spoke about how good content is being available for free on FTA channels and OTT without regulated pricing.
“The second aspect of skewed regulation is to do with the very same content being made available for free. This is what happens on free-to-air channels and there is, mind you, very good content in many cases here with just windowing or it's being available, being made available on the same screen through a broadband pipe at unregulated prices. This is what happens on OTT platforms.”
He further said that this has resulted in the DTH industry being crippled.
He now hopes for the new consultation paper on tariffs to lighten the regulations and make things simpler for stakeholders as well as the consumers.
Vittal also expressed disappointment with the telecom regulator's recommended base prices for 5G airwaves. "The industry had hoped for a massive reduction in prices; while there has been a reduction, it has not been adequate and is in that sense, disappointing," he said.
He also mentioned that Bharti Airtel is ready to roll out 5G services. “I want to call our two major developments here. We are fully ready for 5G. Our core network, our radio network, and even our transport network are fully futureproofed. In our transport network, the power of our home broadband business is now enabling us to connect more and more towers directly on fiber, which will make our network ready to deal with massive increases in capacity.”
Commenting on how the company has performed, he said, the revenue grew sequentially strongly by 9.5%. The ARPU (Average revenue per user) is now Rs 178 and their goal is to reach 300 ARPU. Vittal further pointed out a possible price hike. "We should see a tariff hike in the course of this year itself to move our ARPU to Rs 200, though getting to Rs 300 will happen over a period of time,” he stated.
The company said that it has added two lakh customers to the post-paid model. “With less than 4% penetration of post-paid in India and a reduction in post-paid to prepaid price ratios we believe that post-paid is a very promising opportunity for us going forward.”