Telcos Get a Shrill Earful from TRAI on Call Drops
Regulator tells SC cos only want to add users; not investing in infrastructure
New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India launched a fierce attack on the country’s phone companies in the Supreme Court on Thursday, accusing of them of behaving like a cartel that was only interested in profiteering at the expense of consumers who have to put up with atrocious service quality in the form of dropped calls.
“This is a cartel of four-five players in a country of a billion,” Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi told the apex court, arguing against a petition filed by telcos against a Delhi High Court ruling upholding TRAI penalties on call drop charges. “They earn huge revenues and couldn’t be bothered about consumer satisfaction.”
Rohatgi said the companies were earning up to 61% profit but only investing 5% in infrastructure and only interested in signing more subscribers without fixing call drops.
The company has suffered almost a decade of losses amid poor demand and cheap Chinese imports.
Tata Steel has made it clear that it wanted to complete the sale process in a “time-bound” manner.
Ministers unveiled their proposals for a package of support after Business Secretary Sajid Javid said last week that the government was prepared to “co-invest” in British Steel. The offer has been made by the UK and Welsh governments and will be made available on commercial terms to potential buyers of the business. “This government is committed to supporting the steel industry to secure a long-term viable future and we are working closely with Tata Steel UK on its process to find a credible buyer. The detail of our commercial funding offer is clear evidence of the extent of that commitment,” Javid said in a press release on Thursday.
Outlining its package, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the financial support will be tailored to the purchaser’s strategy and financing needs. However, it is expected that all, or the large majority, will be through the provision of debt financing.
The government is also open to providing hybrid (convertible debt) or alternative forms of financing. It will not acquire any material element of control over the business.
In addition to the support package, the UK and Welsh governments will be willing to consider support, for example, for the development of power plant infrastructure, energy efficiency, environmental protection measures, research & development and training.
Tata Steel welcomed the announcement, saying it outlined potentially important support to the process of finding strategic alternatives for its UK operations. “Tata Steel Europe will continue to work with all stakeholders, including the UK and Welsh governments, to develop the best outcomes for Tata Steel’s UK operations on an urgent timescale,” a spokesman said.
Tata Steel sold its long products business to Greybull Capital last week for 1 pound. It is now left with the strip business in Port Talbot and related rolling mills. So far, Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty House and Port Talbot management have shown interest in Port Talbot assets. The company has reached out to 190 potential financial and industrial investors for the sale. The UK government is also working on the Tata Steel and British Steel Pension Scheme’s Trustees to find a solution that will help minimise its impact on a potential purchaser, and potentially separate it from the business. Tata Steel UK has a 15 billion pounds commitment to 135,000 current and former steelworkers, which has been putting off potential buyers.