We are expecting a final resolution on AGR this year, says Rajan S Mathews

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on January 02, 2020 Published on January 01, 2020

Rajan S Mathews, Director-General, COAI   -  Ashoke Chakrabarty

Rajan S. Mathews, Director-General of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), speaks to BusinessLine on the challenges ahead for the telecom industry. Excerpts:

With myriad issues plaguing the sector, how was the year 2019 for telecom?

The year started on a negative note due to the continuing losses arising from hyper competition and rate cuts among others, and culminated with the tremendous losses originating from Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR). However, the year became better towards of the end of the year, but the low point for the industry was the Supreme Court ruling on the AGR. Among the positive things that happened for the industry was the extension of Interconnect Usage Charges (IUC), discussions on floor price, hike in tariffs among others. The year ended on a positive note.

What are your views on the spectrum auctions expected in 2020?

Spectrum auctions would happen by the fourth quarter of this financial year, probably by March or April. We don’t expect a lot of demand for the 5G spectrum due to the high prices.

Will we see 5G gaining ground in 2020?

We will see a lot of progress on 5G tests but I think any meaningful launch is at least 1.5-2 years away. We will see stability on hiring in the telecom sector and less anxiety on the employee side.

What are the industry’s expectations for this year?

The telecom sector is expecting a final resolution on AGR, with a decision expected from the Supreme Court. We are expecting some reduction in licensing fee in the Budget, firming up of tariffs and less volatility in pricing, among others.

Published on January 01, 2020
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