Let the focus be on the consumer, says TRAI chief

Bangalore Aug. 10. The Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Pradeep Baijal, said here today that one should be more concerned about the consumer and the overall health of the telecom sector than the industry, which was capable of looking after itself.

The focus of TRAI, as a regulator, was to encourage competition and it was due to this that the tariff had come down from Rs. 16 to Rs. 2 in recent months, Mr. Baijal told presspersons who met him after he delivered the valedictory address of the international conference on `Managing in turbulent times.'

Asked to react on the verdict of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal upholding the legality of the WLL services by basic operators, Mr. Baijal said one should not get bogged down by legal controversies, but find a way to come out of litigation and get on to growth for which the scope was tremendous for all players.

On unified licensing, Mr. Baijal regretted the comments in the Press without even looking at the consultation paper.

There were clear provisions on compensation, level-playing field, and competition.

If he had taken a view, he would not have floated the consultation paper.

Earlier, in his valedictory address, Mr. Baijal said if China had 20 times more mobile phones last year than in India it was because it had brought down the rates greatly, while here they were considered an instrument of the rich at Rs.16 per unit tariff.

Mr. Baijal said the number of mobile and WLL phones in the country last year was six million.

After the reduction in tariff, the additions itself came to six million in the first four months of this year.

People who talked of a Chinese revolution for adding one million telephones a month were not bothered about this explosion, Mr. Baijal regretted.

The conference was jointly organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL).

Speaking on behalf of ICASL, Indrajit Fernando said the association between the two was an important milestone in the history of the two countries.

The vice-president of ICAI, Sunil Goel, highlighted the conclusions of the conference.

Vinay Mruthyunjaya introduced the chief guests after they were welcomed by K.Raghu, chairman, Southern India Regional Council of ICAI.