Telecom operators in India need to focus more on improving their services, telecom minister Manoj Sinha claimed in an interview with The Economic Times, rather than quarrelling amongst themselves, following the government's announcement of taking steps to ease their financial pressures.
The Minister was responding to a row between Indian telcos Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular on one side and Reliance Jio on the other. Reliance Jio has been accused of engaging in predatory pricing practices since it established operations in 2016, which have greatly impacted its counterparts' earnings.
The government agreed to increase the spectrum holding limit in a service area from 25 percent to 35 percent and extended the payment terms from ten years (excluding a two-year moratorium), to 16 years, in a bid to encourage industry consolidation by making it simpler for operators to sell off spectrum assets to pay off debt.
"The cabinet's decisions will give them immediate relief," Minister Sinha said, referring to India's telecom operators. "The decisions will help consolidation, give a fillip to investments and improve the ease of doing business in the sector."
He said the decision to potentially lower interest rates on outstanding dues "does not need to go to cabinet – we will take a call on it." ET reported that these measures will provide minimal benefit, as issues such as high taxes still remain.