The telecom billionaire added that India is amongst the most important nations in a deeply-divided world as it has consistently valued its democratic system.
Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal has backed FM Nirmala Sitharaman’s recent call for governments worldwide to evolve a suitable global regulatory regime to track new age crypto-currencies which can pose serious problems.
“The world will move to crypto-currencies as it’s a fine technology, but nation states must collectively evolve a suitable global regulation to legitimise it and ensure such digital fund transfers happen in a safe environment, and that wrong people don’t benefit from it, especially as these transactions can’t be traced or tracked,” Mittal said at the Times Network India Economic Conclave 2022, Thursday.
The telecom billionaire added that India is amongst the most important nations in a deeply-divided world as it has consistently valued its democratic system. This, he said, is also reflected in the fact that Indians today are CEOs of several top Fortune 500 countries, instead of anyone from neighbouring China, largely since MNCs across the world prefer to choose leaders from countries that have cherished democratic values and systems. “Do you really see even one Chinese heading an MNC today, there is none.”
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Mittal said crypto-currencies could pose serious problems as they can be bought easily with rupees and transferred through wallets anywhere in the world. A scenario that could lead to droves of people suddenly printing money (digitally), and competing with nation-states. From that perspective, he said, “there needs to be a (regulatory) envelope, and the FM is not wrong when she recently, during a meeting in Washington DC, called for global action and coordination to deal with the crypto-currency issue”.
He added that as India and the world move to an age of digital currency and crypto wallets, regulations need to catch up, especially as the subject is only partially understood. “I know work is going on at a feverish pace in the government and at RBI, especially as both the US Fed (Federal Reserve) and UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) have put their arms around the crypto-currency issue.”
Underlining India’s gains from democracy, Mittal said even as the world faces de-globalisation, one thing that’s put India in a very different league is its democracy. This, he said, is a key reason why nation states increasingly want to move their global supply chains to trusted nations/partners. Going forward, he expects the world to choose India over other large countries that don’t follow democratic systems.
By contrast, he said one of India’s neighbours “has suffered immensely by not continuing on the path of democracy”, alluding to Pakistan without naming it. “Today, British PM Boris Johnson is in India saluting the world’s largest democracy and our engagement with the US has also gone up, especially after India’s participation in the important QUAD alliance,” Mittal said at the high-octane economic conclave.
Separately, Airtel’s chairman also called on the government to cut 5G spectrum base prices quickly to ensure telcos have enough cash to deploy 5G networks and price the next-gen mobile broadband services affordably. “5G is important and that’s why we keep requesting the government to keep the spectrum at an affordable pricing to not load the industry too much as it’s highly capital intensive.”
Mittal underlined the criticality of telcos investing top dollars in 5G network rollouts and covering more cities in the shortest span rather than getting burdened by hefty spectrum costs that would slow down 5G deployments. “The multiplier impact that a faster high-speed, low-latency network can have for the country is many times more than what can be achieved by picking up some money upfront,” he added.
The telecom regulator recently recommended slashing the reserve price of 3.3-3.67 Ghz airwaves — the main 5G band — by around 36% to Rs 317 crore a unit. But industry executives and analysts say the prices are still too high and need to be cut sharply.
Mittal also built a strong case on the effectiveness of low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations to deliver high-speed, low latency broadband from space services, asserting that old fashioned GEO satellite systems were not suitable for this.
Bharti-backed OnWeb is setting up a global constellation of 648-odd LEO satellites that will be deployed to deliver high-speed, low-latency satellite broadband services in rural and remote regions globally, including in India. OneWeb, though, expects the India launch to be delayed beyond the earlier May 2022 timeline due to challenges brought on by the continuing Russia-Ukraine war.
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