Mohammad Fayazuddin Farooqui,telecom secretary and telecom commission chairman
The incumbent telecom secretary and telecom commission chairman Mohammad Fayazuddin Farooqui has enormous challenges in his platter. Despite this, Farooqui seems confident and seeks industry support. In a conversation with CIOL's Muntazir Abbas, he talks on key issues such as spectrum re-farming, delayed NOFN project, and revisiting preferential market access policy and penalties on telcos. Excerpts.
Government wanted to abolish roaming charges absolutely by October this year, but it seems that you have succumbed to operators demands?
Farooqui: TRAI has already taken decision. The roaming charges have come down substantially, though absolute abolition remains our aspirational goal. Going forward, the regulator will come up with an update.
There are penalties and levies to the tune of Rs 6,500 crore, including Rs 1,900 alone for EMF violations on telcos. Do you plan to revisit it, and create appellate model within DoT?
We have to see the element of profitability. If the nature of infringement is anti-consumer or anti-competition, then there has to be a penalty. There should be appropriate mechanism in place and natural justice would be done. In 2-3 months, we'll put up appellate process.
Do you have any renewed stand on 3G roaming pacts? Is there any scope to reconsider Rs 650-crore penalty on Bharti Airtel?
The case is already sub judice. The penalty issue is also awaiting judicial intervention.
With 100 per cent FDI, how much investment is expected as telecom industry is already entangled with Rs 251,000-crore debt?
We expect quite substantial investment. There are companies that have 60-70 per cent FDI, and this gives them a window of opportunity. In addition, there are some which are yet to commence operations in India and it would prove blessing for them. It could also help industry to overcome debt burden significantly.
DoT is planning to put 2,200 Green towers in extremist-affected areas. What will be the project cost?