28 October, 2020

On Different Wavelengths

The telecom tangle seems far from resolved with projects facing unviability and a financial crunch

On Different Wavelengths
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

WILL Communications Minister Beni Prasad Verma’s cowboy-like approach to the telecom tangle kickstart the basic telephone privatisation process? Not really, because financial institutions on whom telecom companies are depending for raising money are unanimous in their view that it will not be viable to operate basic telephone services as things stand today.

Telecom companies reluctant to sign the licence and interconnect agreements were virtually bulldozed into accepting Letters of Intent (LOIs) for statewide basic telephone services, after Verma issued his ultimatum on October 17: sign on the dotted line or lose your LOIs and face legal action. Five telecom companies, seemingly cowed down by Verma’s tough stance, fell in line, while one of them, the RPG-NTT-Itochu consortium is yet to accept the LOI for Tamil Nadu.

However, not a single telecom company has paid the first year’s licence fee, despite the 21 per cent penal rate of interest that the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) is going to charge with effect from October 18, when the last...

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