The government must also look at rationalising the levies on the sector and close long standing legal disputes that are a big drag on performance of operators, he said.
The government must look at rationalising levies on the telecom sector and close long standing legal disputes that are a big drag on the performance of operators, in order to ensure industry viability with 3+1 player structure, Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal has said.
Mittal in his message to shareholders in the company's latest annual report said, while it is clear that the "worst may be behind for India's telecom industry", it is yet to emerge from the woods.
"India still has some of the lowest data tariffs globally and the industry is barely able to cover the cost of capital.
“It requires much more support to repair the deep damage to its finances and make it viable for telecom operators to invest in future technologies," Mittal said in the company's FY20 annual report.
Exhorting the government to "look into the urgent needs of operators", Mittal said that although the recent tariff increase had provided some cushion, the sector is still way below the levels to make the industry viable.
"The government must also look at rationalising the levies on the sector and close long standing legal disputes that are a big drag on performance of operators," he said.
He added: "These urgent interventions will ensure that we have a viable industry with 3+1 structure, which is essential for serving the digital aspirations of a billion plus Indians."
Mittal said that world is in the midst of an "unprecedented crisis" in form of the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused disruption for economies, businesses and way of life, and noted that road to recovery is likely to be a long one.
"While I remain highly optimistic that we will soon have a vaccine, the world will have to adjust to the new normal," Mittal said.
In this backdrop, telecom and digital technologies have become the bedrock of people's lives, Mittal said terming telecom as the "oxygen for the digital world".
Airtel now ranks among top three mobile service providers globally in terms of subscribers, he said adding that 2020 marks 25 years of Airtel's journey.
During the lockdown, Airtel's network engineers and field staff worked tirelessly on the ground to ensure that networks run seamlessly, Mittal said adding that "Airtel stepped up the game when it mattered the most" right from building digital channels for customer services to rolling our innovative peer-to-peer mobile recharges.