Ambani calls for national debate on access deficit

DQW Bureau
07 Oct 2004

Reliance Infocomm CMD Mukesh Ambani welcomed open market-based competition
both from other private players and the government, but said that ano-malies
need to be corrected.

An indignant Ambani has called for a debate in the com-munication industry to
tackle the issue of access deficit cha-rge (ADC). He likened it to Maruti
charging all other car manufacturers for selling cars in India.

For instance, in the mobility market private operators have to pay BSNL in
the form of access deficit charge, even if it has not used BSNL's network, to
subsidize its rural telephony. Explaining his predicament, Ambani said,
"Out of a 99-paise call, my subscriber has to pay 80-paise as subsidy. What
kind of a model is this? There has to be some public understan-ding on
this," he averred.

Welcoming the FDI in the telecom segment, he said, "There should be no
restri-ctions on capital whatsoever, after all the capital will get invested and
it will create jobs!" Ambivalent on whether Reliance would go in for FDI or
not, Ambani said, "For us, capital has always been global". The
possible merger of BSNL and MTNL to create a communication behemoth also does
not worry him. He quipped, " Our goal is not only the Indian market, we are
looking at being global players in all markets".

Mukesh Ambani was recently awarded "The V&D Telecom Man of the Year
2004" by Voice & Data, a Cyber Media publication. In an exclusive
interview with senior editors, Ambani-the man who impeccably exe-cuted many a
petrochemical projects in the country, shared his views and learning from the
communications business.

Reliance Infocomm, as a project was started with an estimated outlay of Rs
25,000 crore. Indicating the possibility that actual investments could far
surpass this figure, Ambani said," We now look upon this telecom business
as being separate from setting up a chemical or manufacturing project for
Reliance Info-comm's vision to fully play out, we may even invest Rs. 40,000
crore upwards". He said that the company is in a continuous optimization
mode and has been effectively reinvesting the returns till now.

Twenty months into the launch of Reliance Info-comm, Mukesh D Ambani rates
him-self ten on ten in terms of personal satis-faction of having begun well the
rollout of a giant enter-prise that he terms would give India a 'competitive
edge in the world'. Despite some initial hiccups, the company is now a
significant force in the information and communications industry.

Iishwar Daas Nair & Shyam Malhotra (CyberMedia News)

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