Telecom operators in the country are expected to invest $20 billion (around 1.3 lakh crore) in the next two years on expansion of network and operations, Bharti Enterprises Vice Chairman Akhil Gupta said on Thursday.
"Looking at the financial health of many operators, we need to change their model. They need to get, to my mind and experience, asset light. This obviously means massive investment. By very rough estimate, a conservative estimate, we are looking at over $20 billion investments in next two years," Gupta said during a panel discussion at India Mobile Congress.
Gupta, who is also the chairman of mobile tower industry body TAIPA, said these investments have to be economically feasible and the pre-requisites should be done on the basis of infrastructure sharing.
Bharti group Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal on Wednesday had said Airtel will invest Rs 18,000 to Rs 20,000 crore this year and added that the industry together will be injecting Rs 50,000-60,000 crore to build digital infrastructure.
Talking about $20 billion investment, Gupta said "half of this can be given to infrastructure companies at least like optic fibre. There is no reason why operators need to own any piece of property whether national long distance, international long distance, transport network or even connectivity of the towers".
Gupta said that over Rs 1-1.25 lakh crore has been invested in mobile tower industry in the last 10 years.
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