Sector regulator TRAI will hold a meeting with the officials of telecom firms on January 23 to discuss issues that would be taken up during the year. “We will be meeting the industry on January 23 to discuss what will be the issues that we should deliberate in the current calender year,” TRAI Chairman R S Sharma told reporters on the sidelines of an open house discussion on inputs for the new telecom policy.
A similar exercise had been undertaken in early 2017 as well when the regulator met the industry to work out the
agenda and important issues for the year. After meeting the top officials of telcos on January 6 last year, the sectoral watchdog had decided to form a joint committee with telecom operators to review tariff rules and telephone numbering plan. Other issues that were identified included review of internet-based calling services, structure of Universal Services Obligation Fund, crowd sourcing of data for measuring service quality and next-generation networks.
The meeting this year comes in the backdrop of the financial difficulties being faced by the industry, which has
seen its revenue and profitablity come under pressure in the wake of intense competition in the market. The entry of aggressive new operator, Reliance Jio, and its free voice and dirt-cheap data offerings has prompted incumbent telcos like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular to respond, thus hurting their overall financials and business metrics.
The industry is saddled with nearly Rs 4.5 lakh crore of debt, and taking stock of the financial woes of the sector, the Telecom Commission recently approved a proposal for giving relief to the industry by allowing operators more time to pay for the spectrum they bought in auctions. The relief package for telecom operators will be placed before the Union Cabinet shortly.