Telecom challenges for Narendra Modi

CyberMedia is organizing a close-door round table with Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi to brief BJP’s PM candidate about telecom challenges faced by the industry.

Narendra Modi is addressing 400 CEOs in New Delhi and is also the chief guest at CyberMedia ICT Awards, a prestigious award which aims at recognizing and encouraging leaders who have built the Indian ICT Industry.

The three main issues for telecom are poor financial health of the industry, high cost and limited availability of spectrum and high cost and lack of uniformity in right of way (RoW) for mobile towers, fiber optic cables, grid power and providing the benefits of ‘infrastructure’ status to the industry.

Telecom sector ranks No 2 in private sector investment in infrastructure and is one of the heaviest contributors to the public exchequer and ranks No 3 with respect to foreign direct investment (FDI).

The telecom industry has put forward a whole list of challenges which will be given to Narendra Modi, BJP’s PM candidate for 2014 elections.

1. Improve poor financial health of the industry.

2. Introduce a flat SUC (Spectrum Usage Charge) of a nominal 1 percent, now that most spectrum has been acquired through market related auction process.

3. Reduce USO (Universal Service Obligation) fund to 1 percent as operators meet the revised roll out obligations which now covers the rural areas. Failure to do so is tantamount to a “double levy” on operators as they increasingly provide coverage in the rural areas. USOF is already sitting on a unutilized fund of over Rs 28,220 crore, as of September 30, 2013.

4. Define “Adjusted Gross Revenue” which is subject to government levies, to include only mobile telecom related income (i.e. exclude items such as interest income, foreign exchange gain, etc.).

5. Increase availability and reduce cost of spectrum. Make available to the industry, all spectrum in all the bands (e.g. 2100 MHz, 1800 MHz, 800 MHz and 700 MHz) presently lying unutilized by various government agencies in conformity with globally harmonized bands. Provide a clear road-map of spectrum availability in the future.

6. Follow TRAI recommendations in setting reasonable spectrum reserve prices which take in to account the broader benefits accruing to society and the nation as a result of expanding mobile services at affordable rates.

7. Allow Spectrum trading and sharing to encourage efficient use of spectrum.

8. Provide for uniform and low cost right of way and provide the benefits of “Infrastructure” status to the industry. Adopt uniform RoW across all states at a uniform and reasonable cost, for the installation of mobile towers, laying of fiber optic cable and provision of grid power.

9. Implement the benefits of the “Infrastructure” status of the industry through roll out of such initiatives as grid power availability on a priority basis and at favorable rates, tax holidays, preferential debt interest and debt instruments, etc.

CEO’s participating in the closed door meeting include: Cisco (Jeff White); Google (Rajan Anandan); IBM (Shanker Annaswamy); NII (Kiran Karnik); Tech Mahindra (CP Gurnani); Nokia (P Balaji); Airtel (Akhil Gupta); COAI (Rajan Mathews); Alcatel-Lucent (Munish Seth); Dell (Alok Ohrie); Galgotia University (Dhruv Galgotia and Suneel Galgotia); HP (Neelam Dhawan); Indus Towers (Shantha Raju); PVG Menon (IESA); Rajesh Janey (EMC); Rajiv Srivastava (MAIT); Alok Bharadwaj (Canon); Reliance ADA (Gurdeep Singh); Sagitaur Ventures (BV Naidu); Samsung (Vineet Taneja); SAP (Suprakash Chaudhuri); Smart Link (KR Naik); STPI (Omkar Rai); TEMA (NK Goyal); Videocon (Raj Kumar Dhoot and Arvind Bali); and Vodafone (Sunil Sood).


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