British telecom major Vodafone today made a pitch to Communications Minister Manoj Sinha for "fair application" of proposed goods and services tax (GST) and other levies, along with a stable policy regime. "Since an affordable telecom service is essential for digital inclusion of rural India, we requested for a predictable policy regime with a level-playing field and a fair application of GST and other levies," Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao said in a statement. Telecom industry body COAI has written to the government expressing concern on various provisions proposed in GST, including valuation of transaction and registration in every state, and requested it to ensure there is no increase in tax on telecom services. UK-based Vodafone's India unit was the most aggressive, taking home Rs 20,000 crore worth of spectrum. Colao said he thanked the minister for the government's recent policies, including spectrum auction, which will enable the company to expand its 4G services and offer the Vodafone SuperNet experience in more circles. Vodafone India acquired spectrum for a 20-year term in the recent auction across 1800, 2100 and 2500 MHz bands. Vodafone India has 17 circles with 4G capability, covering 90 per cent of the company's total revenues and 94 per cent of mobile data revenues.
Vodafone India has the largest voice and data traffic usage within the Vodafone group and has more than 200 million customers. As of June 30, 2016, Vodafone India had 69.7 million data users, of which 32.3 million use 3G/4G services. Last year, the company had acquired 78.4 MHz of spectrum in 12 telecom circles in the 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz bands, in circles such as Gujarat, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh (East), Assam, and Karnataka, among others. "During the meeting, we reaffirmed our commitment to India and supporting the government's thrust on financial inclusion by expanding our M-pesa service," Colao said.
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