Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, on Friday called for urgent policy measures to bring an end to 2G service, which started 25 years ago, and make it a “part of history”.
Ambani made the comment during an event that marked the 25th anniversary of the first mobile phone call made in India. The chief of oil-to-telecom conglomerate said that 2G era feature phones have kept around 30 crore subscribers away from basic internet services when both India and other countries are venturing into the 5G era.
“I specifically refer to the fact that India still has 300 million mobile subscribers trapped in the 2G era, their feature phones keep them excluded even from the basic usage of the internet at a time when both India and the rest of the world are standing at the doorsteps of 5G telephony,” Ambani said.
“I think necessary policy steps should be taken with utmost urgency to make 2G a part of history,” he added.
Earlier, Ambani had announced that RIL’s telecom arm Jio will strive to make India free of 2G. Keeping the same in view, it has already announced that it will partner with the tech-giant Google to launch an entry-level Android smartphone soon. Reliance Jio launched a feature phone called JioPhone in 2017 that currently has an installed base of 20 per cent among the country’s feature phone users.
Reliance Jio has been at loggerheads with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea over interconnection usage charges that are levied on each outgoing call because of existence of 2G technology.
At present, a charge of six paise is levied on every outgoing call on to the network of other mobile operators.
Ambani said that India took a big flight into the bright future with the advent of mobile services in 1995. He said that the birth of fixed line telephony was a rare moment in history when fiction became a fact, however, it provided only partial freedom of communication.
“It did not completely remove the constraint of distance, people needed to communicate from anywhere to anywhere round the clock,” Ambani said.
He said that mobile phones have become affordable beyond all expectations. In 1995, the cost of a call from one cell phone was Rs 24 which comprised Rs 16 for the caller and Rs 8 for the called.
Ambani said that affordable mobile services have also become democratic and are no longer a rich man’s monopoly.
“Indeed, no other technological tool in human history has erased the rich-poor divide the way mobile telephony has. Third, from uni-functional, cell phones have become multifunctional because of the mobile internet. The combination of the connectivity revolution and the computation revolution has opened floodgates of human creativity,” Ambani said.
Noting that the next 25 years will bring even more breathtaking changes in mobility, the RIL Chairman said that time has come for India to be ahead of the rest of the world in key areas of technology.
Speaking at the online event organised by COAI, Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal called on the government to lower the taxes and levies for the growth of the industry.
“It is time for the government that this industry which has had its ups and downs is now given due attention in the areas of levies and taxes. Taxes have generally been very high in this industry. It is important that this is reviewed thoroughly,” he said.