Telecom chiefs come together, discuss issues with PM

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

Honchos of five top telecom firms agreed to bury their differences on various policy issues at a meeting with top Government functionaries including the Prime Minister.

Mr Sunil Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Airtel, and arch rival Mr Anil Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Communications, were part of the group which presented a unified front in raising common concerns facing the industry.

Mr Vittorio Colao, CEO, Vodafone Plc, Mr Kumarmangalam Birla, Chairman, Idea Cellular, and Mr Ishaat Hussain, Director, Tata Sons, were also present for the meetings. Apart from the Prime Minister, the industry group met the Finance Minister, the Communications and IT Minister, the Commerce Minister and the Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India during the day.

“There has been a meeting of minds. The competitive spirit remains but a way forward to deal with various issues has been put in place. This is only the first step, we will have more such joint meetings as the industry is joined together by the common issues of concern in front of us,” said one of the executives present in the meetings.

“It is a dawn of a new era of telecom cooperation,” is how another executive described the meetings without elaborating on the details of how the steep differences will be ironed out. The joint meeting has, however, raised hopes of a new compromise formula being thrashed out for an industry that has witnessed bitter war between rival camps.

Over the past 10 years, Bharti, Vodafone and Idea have been at loggerheads with Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices on a number of issues starting from the way CDMA technology was allowed in 2001. The two camps are still divided on a number of issues including quantum of start up spectrum, 2G spectrum pricing, roll out for dual technology players and the latest controversy around 3G roaming.

But over the past year the telecom industry as a whole has been grappling with decline in subscribers, revenues and profitability.

The Telecom Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal, has been repeatedly asking the operators to sink their differences. Policy makers were finding it difficult to take a decision due to sharp difference of opinion among the various operators.

Industry sources said that the new telecom policy and the 2G spectrum pricing will reflect the changed stance.

Published on November 30, 2011

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