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Right Interference Helps, Wrong Interference Kills

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Compared to what it used to be sometime back when the investors were never

too sure about anything, the mood is much upbeat now. This is what the results

of the VOICE&DATA Telecom Deregulation Audit on the National Telecom Policy

of 1999 and the draft of the Communications Convergence Bill 2000 show.

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There are several key concerns in policy implementation and deregulation

which need to be addressed, but irrespective of that the industry’s confidence

is on the rise. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, the players now

are fairly sure that a huge demand exists. Second, the players now feel that

actually the entire pace of reforms is not that slow after all. Telecom

Deregulation Audit reveals that the pace of reforms is now ‘OK’ in most

areas as compared to ‘Not OK’ which was the general mood on most of the

issues just about a year back. Again a pointer to the fact that pace of progress

has picked up. One now believes that government’s involvement and interference

in telecom reforms is showing positive results.

However, all is not hunky dory. There are areas where involvement is proving

to be counter-productive. Take the case of MTNL which urgently needed Managed

Leases Line Data Network equipment to enhance its backbone for the ISP services.

Tenders were floated, and files kept moving from ministers to secretaries, and

after more than a year of decisions and counter decisions, and committee

reports, the tender was finally scrapped. One need not elaborate how much would

have MTNL suffered because of this, not to mention all the heartburn and hassles

the concerned vendors would have gone through.

A lot needs to be done as far as transparency in purchases is concerned.

Large service providers, such as MTNL and BSNL, need complete operational

freedom if they have to survive and do well. Ministerial interference in the

affairs of service providers will not only result in losses to the

organizations, but could also lead to wrong decisions which will affect their

customers too. Even the vendors will stop thinking straight. These are going to

have an adverse effect at a time when wrong telecom decisions will prove to be

too costly for the country, the government, as well as the end users.

Ibrahim Ahmad

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