Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) concluded its annual general body meeting for the financial year 2020-21, with the announcement of its leadership for the term 2021-22.
Ajai Puri, chief operating officer (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel Limited, will once again hold the position of chairman while Pramod Kumar Mittal, president, Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, will be the vice chairman of the association.
Puri has been with Bharti Airtel since 2004, and has held several senior leadership positions including director – market operations and director and CEO – DTH. Prior to joining Bharti Airtel, Puri served as the business head – foods at Cargill Foods India. He began his career with VST India Ltd, an associate company of British American Tobacco (UK).
Meanwhile, Mittal comes with a rich experience of 42 years in telecommunications. Before joining Reliance Jio as president, Mittal served in the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Government of India, for over 37 years. Since the year 2000, he served as deputy director general (DDG) and then as senior DDG, working in the telecommunication policy formulation and implementation, licensing and regulatory wings of the DoT. During his tenure, he was responsible for the liberalisation of basic services, opening of national long-distance services and international long-distance services, introduction and implementation of unified access service licence and the unified licence regime.
Lt. Gen. Dr. SP Kochhar, director general, COAI, expressed his appreciation for Puri’s and Mittal’s support and their leadership. The past year has been one of the most eventful and also the most challenging for the Indian telecom industry. The AGR ruling of the Supreme Court added to the challenges posed by the pandemic, the nationwide lockdowns, and the multiple cyclones that battered India. Despite these challenges the industry has continued to serve the nation as an essential service.
COAI is optimistic about the future of the industry and the opportunities ahead, as 5G and allied technologies get closer to commercial deployment.
Commenting on the development, Puri, said, “The digital communications industry has once again risen to serve India and has kept the nation connected during this unprecedented phase. On behalf of the industry, I would like to reiterate our commitment to support the government’s efforts to connect and digitise the country at large as we emerge from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are thankful to the DoT, Central and State Governments as well as the Telecom Regulator for supporting and encouraging the industry to achieve the role envisioned for it.”
Meanwhile, Mittal said, “It’s a pleasure for me to once again take the responsibility as Vice Chairman of COAI and continue to work with the industry to bring about the next level of reforms in order to uplift and strengthen the sector while initiating measures for the benefit of end consumers.”
Further, Kochhar said, “We would like to thank our leadership for their guidance and support during this challenging time and further express confidence in their ability to steer the Association and the sector towards long term health and stability. We are pleased to share that the digital communications industry, with the support of the government has emerged as the economic and social backbone of the Nation, keeping the citizens connected and enabling the economy to function during the crisis period of COVID-19 and cyclones. As the industry continues to play its critical role, the future has a lot in store for us with the ecosystem gearing up for 5G. We are committed to play an even greater role in achieving the Digital India vision.”