Call rates can rise 100 percent, warn telecom operators
"Our belief is that the implication could be as high as 100 percent of the existing rates to be compensated by the customers. This would vary circle to circle and doesn't take into account any spectrum re-farming, which would actually push prices even further," said Sanjay Kapoor, Airtel chief executive officer.
Briefing the media a day after their bosses met key ministers and top officials to argue their case against the regulator's proposals, operational heads of the companies termed the recommendations as flawed and retrograde.
"The TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) recommendations are flawed and retrograde, regressive and uncertain, which will harm consumer interest, and will ring the death knell for the Indian telecom industry," Kapoor said.
Present also at the news conference called by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) were Himanshu Kapania, managing director of Idea Cellular, Rajiv Bawa, chief representative officer, Telenor India, Arvind Bali, Videocon director and CEO, and Vodafone managing director Marten Pieters.
On the proposed re-farming, Kapoor said: "If we were to surrender the 900 MHz spectrum and switch to 1800 MHz, you as customers will find dark holes inside and in streets and bylanes. The rural part of the country will seem disconnected tomorrow."
He also said the move could cost the industry thousands of crore and affect the environment. "We will need to put more towers for 1800 MHz, with more diesel, and this will impact the environment."
The operators sought a drastic reduction in the reserve price of spectrum, rejection of recommendation on re-farming, auction all spectrum available and do away with rollout obligations for auctioned spectrum from the government.