Sunil Mittal, Anil Ambani, other telco heads to meet minister Manoj Sinha to discuss stress in sector

New Delhi: Industry bigwigs Sunil Bharti Mittal and Anil Ambani along with other telecom players will meet Communications Minister Manoj Sinha tomorrow to discuss the financial difficulties being faced by the sector.

The meeting comes just days after an inter-ministerial group held a dialogue with all telecom companies on the industry's financial stress and measures that can be taken to ease the situation.

It will be, among others, attended by Idea Cellular Managing Director Himanshu Kapania, Tata Sons Director Ishaat Hussain and Reliance Jio Infocomm Board Member, Mahendra Nahata, sources said.

Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan will also be present, they said.

 Sunil Mittal, Anil Ambani, other telco heads to meet minister Manoj Sinha to discuss stress in sector

Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal. Reuters

Jio had last week ascribed the financial stress in the telecom sector to existing operators like Airtel and Idea running businesses on debt and investing heavily in unrelated sectors. Jio alleged that the incumbent operators had been reluctant in infusing equity and hence the financial stress is their own creation.

The incumbent operators, on the other hand, had hit back saying the current call connect charge (or Interconnection Usage Charges) of 14 paise/minute is below cost and needs to be corrected to "prevent predatory voice pricing environment".

India's largest telecom company Bharti Airtel had accused Jio of predatory pricing and demanded that operators be paid more for calls terminating on their networks as also the right to retain customers through incentives.

The large operators had also spoken in one voice on reduction of levies like licence fee, spectrum usage charges and GST. They also sought an extension on deferred spectrum liabilities - meaning that the amount they bid for radiowaves should be payable over a longer period.

Citing Rs 4.6 lakh crore cumulative debt staring the sector, the incumbents have made a case for urgent relief measures like extension on payment of deferred spectrum liability and cut in levies.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India too had met the telecom companies last week, where Idea Cellular suggested imposition of a minimum floor price for voice and data services.

(Disclosure - Reliance Industries Ltd. is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd)

Updated Date: Jun 21, 2017 18:44:15 IST