Stress in telecoms temporary, new policy on anvil: government

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28 October 2017

Department of telecommunications secretary Aruna Sundararajan has acknowledged that the telecom industry is going through a stressful time, but feels that it is a temporary phase and as tariffs stabilise, the signs of which are already visible, the sector should be back on track.

In an interview with The Financial Express, Sundararajan said a new telecom policy is in the works. On the Telecom Commission recommending only extending the tenure of deferred spectrum payment and not adopting other large-scale measures suggested by an inter-ministerial group (IMG), she said that other long-term measures would be dealt in the new policy.

''The IMG concluded that the industry is facing an interim liquidity stress (but) this is not a long-term, permanent phenomenon.

''The second thing they said was that although there was a dip or erosion in revenues, an upward trend was visible. I think we are already seeing tariffs starting to move upwards. So we will have to continue to watch the situation,'' she says.

On the industry's demand for a reduction in licence fee and spectrum charges in view of the high cost of spectrum, Sundararajan said this would be examined in consultations with the stakeholders while formulating the new telecom policy.

On the high reserve prices for spectrum, she sought to blame it on the telecom operators. ''Everyone talks about high prices but it is the telecom operators who have driven up the prices to that level by their hyper competition,'' she said.

''I don't want to say anything right now as Trai (the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) is doing a consultation on spectrum auction and discussions on NTP (new telecom policy) are going on with all the stakeholders. So let us wait for what kind of recommendations emerge because there are several issues involved. We will take a call keeping in view the recommendations of Trai and the recommendations of IMG. In the NTP we will be doing a detailed exercise,'' Sundararajan added.





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