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TRAI To Meet Telecom Companies’ CEOs On Thursday To Seek Inputs On FY20 Agenda

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), led by its Chairman RS Sharma, will meet chief executive officers of mobile services providers on Thursday to seek their inputs on the agenda for the next financial year, a source familiar with the development told Moneycontrol.

“The invitation has been sent out to CEOs of telecom companies. The attempt will be to know their wishlist for the next year,” the source said.

TRAI’s invite to the honchos of the industry comes even as it awaits a reference from the Department of Telecommunications on the new telecom policy, christened the National Digital Communications Policy, 2018.

Nonetheless, the regulator will have its hands full at the meeting as there will be plenty officials and representatives of telecom companies who will want to share inputs with it.

The companies would be keen to find out the status of the spectrum auction, although TRAI itself is waiting for a reference from DoT on the recommendations it had first issued on August 1. Since then, spectrum has been harmonized further and more of it should be available for auction.

Company officials may also want to know the regulator’s roadmap to achieve the objectives of the National Digital Communications Policy.

The policy aims to create a customer-focused 5G ecosystem driven by apps. It aims to provide broadband for all at 50 Mbps speed by 2022.

The new telecom policy aims to attract investments of $100 billion in the sector and create 4 million jobs in the country by 2022.

The government expects the investments to take the share of the sector in the country’s GDP to 8 percent from 6 percent last year.

It expects the policy to create a provision for providing 1 Gbps connectivity to all gram panchayats by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022.

Also, players like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea would be thinking of seeking steps from the regulator for some succour, unable as they are in withstanding the onslaught of Reliance Industries-owned Reliance Jio Infocomm.

In less than two years of its commercial launch, the average revenue per user of the Mukesh Ambani-led telecom provider has exceeded that of its rivals who have been in the business for over two decades.

The companies may also request the regulator to take a lenient view of the call drop situation and telemarketing, both of which have climbed to levels beyond nuisance.

The regulator has taken a serious view of both issues in the past and even sought to penalise the operators.

In the last five years, call drops have hit alarming levels with no end to the pain in sight.

Operators have often cited lack of permissions from municipalities and residents’ associations as reasons for call drops but the older, established companies have been behind the curve in investing enough in infrastructure.

One can expect a meet between the regulator and mobile services providers to go beyond the agenda, if not exactly turn into a slugfest.

An industry official said Airtel and Vodafone Idea had decided to shift users of their lifetime validity plans to monthly or other plans, wherein they would need to recharge their calling packs more regularly.

The official said the regulator may be interested to know how companies could go back on their promise since the user would have been shifted to a lifetime plan only after having paid a certain amount. – Money Control

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