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Ambani calls for national debate on access deficit

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DQW Bureau
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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.

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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.

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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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