In a bid to pressure the government not to accept the TRAI’s recommendations on the spectrum auction, the heads of four telecom firms met telecom minister Kapil Sibal, home minister P Chidambaram and other officials on Wednesday.
The telcos are unhappy over the TRAI’s proposals which suggested 10 percent hike in the reserve price for the spectrum auction.
Heads of four GSM companies Vodafone Plc CEO, Vittorio Colao, Idea Cellular Chairman, Kumar Mangalam Birla, and Telenor CEO, Fredrik Baksaas put their case before the government.
Reflecting on the current uncertain regulatory environment in the country, Bharti Airtel Chairman, Sunil Mittal, said the TRAI's recommendations might spell doom for the entire telecom sector, if accepted.
"This has been the most destructive period of regulatory environment I have seen in 16 years," Mittal said.
He said that the recent regulatory developments in India will have significant implications on the future of telephony and broadband, as well as India's global competitiveness.
These telcos have been demanding reduction in base price by 80 per cent and putting all available spectrum for auction. They also want the proposal to re-farm 900 MHz band to be on put freeze.
"If the decisions are taken in the interest of the industry, they (Trai recommendations) have to be changed. The current recommendations will kill the industry", Birla said. Idea Cellular is set to lose spectrum licences following the Supreme Court’s February 2 verdict.
“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 licence auctions allows affordability, competition and investments to remain in India”, Baksaas told reporters after the meeting.
These telcos feel that the suggested hike in the reserve price for the auction will shrink the margins and result in tariff hike. They are also apprehensive that this will discourage the foreign investment in the country.