Sunday, January 30, 2011

IDEA not happy with GOVT and POLITICIANS

Sorry for the late post but life is turning into a hell with Governance Deficit and Paralysis of Policies headed by one of the Weakest Prime Minister’s in our History.
In the Conference Call hosted on the 25th of Jan, Idea Cellular Management expressed their unhappiness over the Government’s reluctance to indulge Operators and various stake holders in talks. They hoped that the Minister will take inputs but my guess is he didn’t. I am not an advocate of Idea Cellular nor have any interest [direct / in-direct got nothing to do with them], but in the past 2 / 3 years they have repeatedly written to the Telecom Ministry and on some occasions even to the Prime Minister to come with a complete road map for the sector yet the the Puppet like Prime Minister chose to ignore their requests.
Idea Management also expressed the following views, [My Comments in Italics]
  • There must be efficiency at National Level with Multidisciplinary committee
  • Competition does not increase when operators go from 6 to 16
  • As sector evolves, command and control must be market based. Regulator must be able to act freely [Regulator is to write regulations, some Regulators are influenced by their ex-chairman now working for Nira Radia.  Based on the kick-back the Politicians and Bureaucrats receive, rules of the game will be tweaked]
  • Telecom cannot be governed by Media [Nira Radia / Barkha Dutt / NDTV] or Parliament [ ufff Politicians]. Special institutions must takeover and it should be evaluated on how they should be funded [Somebody like Nandan Nilekani should be asked to Head such a institution along with Academic Researchers]
The management which is taking directions from the toughest Chairman of the Aditya Birla group, Kumarmangalam, has been able to cut costs and increase efficiencies at all levels since they need to survive the major shakeout with just plain vanilla Wireless services. Some of the other things discussed in the call by the management are as follows,
  • ARPU is higher than Telecom Sector’s Average.
  • Mobile Number Portability will not be a game changer and Strong Brands will be net gainers
  • 3G launch in 11 cities very soon and nationwide roaming arrangements in place.
  • Idea’s network now carry 1 Bn minutes a day of Voice making it amongst the Top 10 operators globally in traffic
  • Further CAPEX will depend and will be directly proportional to the profits and Cash Flow
  • Idea Cellular has tied up with Axis bank to encash upon the m-commerce opportunity. RBI wants to get most of Indian Population into the banking stream and hence is utilizing the reach and network of Telecom companies. Regulations are evolving with respect to settlement, KYC, UIDAI etc. Idea thinks that m-commerce roll out is still 9 to 12 months away.
  • Data Usage on Idea Network has shot up but no details were given due to competition.
  • To a question on doubling of subscriber acquisition by Merrill Lynch Analyst, Reena Verma, the management didn’t give a satisfactory answer in my view and took shelter under the excuse of seasonality as the Analyst questioned, if their were any strategies the management had adopted, what was stopping them from being implemented earlier :-)
And finally, the Telecom Sector is a mess which I don’t have to explain. I am not really excited to write a lot on this as the stake holders lack the attitude to move ahead in life and grow that you and I have. My priority is something else now, so if time permits, will share my thoughts :-) source

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