New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) Chiefs of Indian and foreign telecom companies Wednesday met key ministers and officials and voiced their concerns over the regulator’s proposals, especially the high base price of the spectrum to be auctioned.
Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal, Idea Cellular Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao, and Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas spent virtually the entire day in their effort meeting Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Communications Minister Kapil Sibal apart from other government officials in the respective departments.
Minister Sibal said after the telecom chiefs met him that they had expressed concern over the regulator’s proposals and he had assured them that “we will look into the matter”.
“The government has said that they are examining the issues that they would have consultations,” Birla said after the meetings.
Birla said the government indicated that it would take a decision on proposed spectrum auction rules only after careful deliberations.
“We believe the recommendations are completely flawed and illogical. Perhaps, the regulator arrived at a decision and then filled up the logic. Overall, everything that is coming out of the regulatory house today is a mode of destroying India’s telecom industry,” said Mittal.
He said the regulatory developments in India will have significant implications on the future of telephony and broadband, as well as India’s global competitiveness.
Baksaas of Norway’s Telenor said: “It is the government alone that carries political responsibility and therefore the final say on policy. We urge the Indian Government to take its rightful political initiative now. This is the time to ensure that the policy made for the telecom license auctions allows affordability, competition and investments to remain in India.”
The meetings came a week after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India proposed the base prices for the spectrum sale 10 times higher than what the operators pay currently, and also the auction of only one slot of bandwidth, among others.
The proposals have received strong criticisms from the industry and sector watchers alike, following which the Telecom Commission has sought more information and clarifications from the regulator on its recommendations.
In a joint letter, the firms last week also urged Sibal not to accept TRAI’s recommendation or else the call tariffs would shoot up by 25-30 percent.
They have also requested the minister to reduce the reserve price by about 80 percent and auction all available spectrum.
–Indo-Asian news Service