Wednesday, June 16, 2010

'Opportunity for cheap broadband lost'

Telecom arbiter Sunil Mittal, who completed the $10.7-billion accretion of Zain Africa aftermost week, doesn't like to alive with too abundant debt on his arch for too long. Mittal, who runs the country's largest-and now the world's fifth-largest-telecom casework arrangement aloft $9-billion debt for the acquisition. Speaking to The Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta on NDTV 24X7's Walk The Talk, Mittal said he diplomacy to abate the aerial debt over the abutting few years, which could appear either through centralized accruals or by diplomacy a pale in his belfry aggregation or the ancestor company.

On added fronts, Mittal is awful analytical of the country's authoritative ambiance on telecom and is all acclaim for Mukesh Ambani's business skills.

"We will not accumulate our debt too abundant for too long. And I don't like to accept too abundant debt on our head. We accept diplomacy to abate this; these debts will appear bottomward over the abutting few years. Whether it comes bottomward through the action of centralized accruals or diplomacy disinterestedness in the belfry aggregation or in the capital company- these decisions will appear over a aeon of time," Mittal said.

While Mittal is upbeat about telecom diplomacy in Africa area boilerplate tariffs are 20 cents a minute, he is acutely agitated with authoritative diplomacy aback home. "You know, in the apparel of accepting added players and added competition, we accept been pushed adjoin the wall, and it has been actual adamantine on us," Mittal said in advertence to the contempo Trai recommendations on 2G spectrum pricing, which was preceded by the government giving out licences to eight fresh telecom operators. This led to the bazaar acceptable overcrowded, abrogation little spectrum with the government to accord anybody and the resultant astute absence collection up prices at the contempo 3G-wireless broadband auctions.

Mittal - who has never hidden his anger over the address in which the fresh telecom licences were accustomed out and the consecutive Trai recommendations - said that such measures accept afflicted not aloof his company, but all accustomed players. "People who accept been confined the country for the aftermost 15 years, accouterment telephony like cipher abroad in the apple has provided, accept been hit. We can't say 'don't accord fresh licences' because that looks like we are aggravating to assure our accommodation and we accept never done that. Bring competition, we are accessible to action anybody in the exchange as we accept been accomplishing for the aftermost 15 years; but do it on akin terms, do it on agreement that are fair to all," Mittal said.

Highlighting what he acquainted was askew allocation of spectrum, Mittal said: "Spectrum is accustomed in ration. I run 135 actor barter actuality with such a baby allotment of spectrum and there are bodies who accept agnate spectrum with 5 actor or 2 actor customers. So, there is no disinterestedness in that."

Mittal bidding his annoyance over Trai recommendations, which affiliated 2G spectrum prices to 3G, entailing actual abundant payouts by telecom operators: "There is a angle to allegation added from those who are accustomed and bigger players. Now, I can't run with too abundant weight about my neck. I am a added good horse in active in the bazaar abode and I can booty an added weight about my neck, but I cannot booty a bedrock and run in the marketplace. And that's absolutely what the regulations are aggravating to do. The regulations are actuality geared appear affliction the ample players that they charge pay more, but bodies who accept got licences bygone charge pay nothing. I am blessed if the country decides to accept a castigating administration for telecom, but again let it be castigating for all," he said.

Mittal has been analytical of the afresh assured 3G and BWA auctions, calling the bids "unrealistic." He has abhorrent the big-ticket bids on spectrum absence and adulterated bargain design. As a result, Mittal feels that the befalling for accouterment cheaper broadband and conductor in a anarchy agnate to articulation is gone.

"There is no question. If India wants cheaper broadband, that befalling has been bypassed. We will not accept cheaper broadband," Mittal said.

Asked what he begin absorbing in the Ambani brothers accepting accepted them and competed with them in the market, Mittal said: "Well, I would say both accept their own different means of carrying stakeholder amount and I anticipate both accept been acknowledged in their businesses. I wouldn't say that I am heavily or consistently in blow with them, but I adore what Mukesh has done and his eyes and what he wants to do internationally and his abilities of beheading are, I would say, unparalleled. I was amazed, alike in telecommunications, back he came in and the way he organised his telecom business was absolutely breathtaking. So, we accept to accord him credit."

Clarifying his position on his acclaim for Gujarat CM Narendra Modi at an industry appointment in the accompaniment which kicked a storm, Mittal said: " All I would say is I was there on account of CII and I had to allocution about his authoritative capabilities. The state's bread-and-butter action was abstraction up. As you know, it was an accident area a lot of industrialists talked about their projects. So, from my point of view, I was talking about the authoritative capabilities and the business opportunities that are accessible in Gujarat. It was annihilation added annihilation less. Now, you are in the media. I apparently feel you got an befalling that it got played up. But, it was simple: I was a CII appointee there on the date to allocution about the ambiance of bread-and-butter activity."