Sanjay Kapoor, president of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and the CEO of Bharti Airtel, today hit out against Trai’s recommendation on spectrum pricing. He said that if government accepts the telecom regulatory authority of India’s proposals, it would prove to be a death knell for the telecom industry.
At a media conference on Thursday, Kapoor termed Trai’s recommendation of charging a base price of Rs3,622 crore for pan-India spectrum as flawed and retrograde. According to the telecom honchos the high reserve price recommended by the watchdog, will push up mobile tariffs by 30-40 percent, which in turn would make their business unviable. The chiefs of India’s top four telecom companies— Vodafone, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Telenor— made a joint pitch for the rate cut to top government functionaries, including home minister P Chidambaram and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. They also met Pulok Chatterji, Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, and Department of Telecommunications (DoT) Secretary R Chandrashekhar.
They demanded that the reserve price for the spectrum should be reduced by 80 percent as the current price of Rs 3,622 crore for 700 megahertz of spectrum is around ten times higher than the price of 2G licenses in 2008.
Sunil Mittal, chairman of Bharti Airtel, termed the recommendations of Trai on 2G auction as “catastrophic” for the sector. “Everything coming out of the regulatory house is a mode of destruction for this wonderful industry that India has,” said the chief of India’s largest telecom company.
Asking the government take the “rightful political initiative”, Telenor’s Baksaas, who flew in for the meeting, asked the government to put in place a policy that “allows affordability, competition and investments”.
Birla said the regulator’s proposals would kill the industry and it made no sense for anyone to participate in the spectrum auction at the proposed price levels.