Govt dithering hinders telecom growth, says Vodafone CEO

Continuing his diatribe against the Centre on the difficulties facing foreign companies looking to do business in India, Vodafone India MD and CEO Marten Pieters said on Wednesday that the government’s inability to take decisions is hindering the growth of the telecom industry in the country.

Addressing delegates at the CeBIT India conference in Bangalore on Wednesday, Pieters said, “There is more demand for spectrum from industry stakeholders and supply is limited. This has created a situation where prices have risen exorbitantly. We want more spectrum released so that the issue can be solved,” he said.

“Unless the government releases more spectrum, the plans to have 600 million broadband users by 2020 cannot be achieved. Already, the quality of services in India is getting impacted due to shortage of spectrum,” he said.

He alleged that the 2G spectrum scam has led the bureaucracy to go slow on decisions at a time when there is more demand for data than voice services. “With the rollout of 3G, there is great demand for data services which already constitutes 50 per cent of our data revenues. We need government support to come out of a spectrum-starved atmosphere so that data services can be ramped up,” he said.

“The government is getting more money from telecom operators via spectrum auctions and other taxes. We have already given $12 billion to the government. But there is no positive response from the government,” he said. 

The Vodafone head also alleged that he had written to the government in the past urging it to address the spectrum shortage issue but did not get a positive response. 

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