There are also constant rumors that you will at some point exit telecom?
Idea is a very, very strong franchise, it is moved from being a complete non entity 3 years ago to be a very strong player. It is in the top three in terms of mobile telephony. Like I said it is grown at the rate of 20% this year as compared to 10% for the industry as a whole. We have a very healthy customer base, of high RQ customers. So I do not see the rationale for us to exit. I know that these rumors keep coming in and out but that is completely untrue.
But how do you look at this whole 2G spectrum allocations, the subsequent scams which have come to light and Idea Spice itself has embroiled in a controversy with DoT? First of all your reaction to this 2G spectrum allocation, the scam and the way it is developing?
I think that like we all know the 2G scam has been a very unfortunate incident I want to very quickly on the heels of that add that the Idea issue has nothing to do with the scam. We clearly are not a part of this scam. I think that is an issue of overlapping licenses on account of the Spice buyout and which is a more technical issue. Very clearly our issue is very different from what you are calling the scam issue. But I think that very clearly the Idea growth story is a very strong one going forward, I think the 2G fracas has been a very unfortunate one but I think that we need to, as an industry move forward with doing the things that are required to make this a more healthy industry now.
The new telecom policy talks about getting telecom companies to pay market prices for any megahertz that they have more than 6.2, what is your view on that?
I do not think that it is entirely warranted but having said that I think the more important thing in terms of policy is now to focus on the M&A guidelines because that potentially can be a game changing policy for the industry.
Would you want to acquire or maybe bring in a strategic investor in Idea?
We clearly have no plans to bring in a strategic investor because like I said, no rationale, no reason for us to bring is a strategic investor. Idea is doing very well going across it is markets. In terms of acquisitions I do not see the logic to do that again but I think that easing of the M&A norms will create a more consolidated and a healthier telecom sector.
How do expect this fight with the DOT on the Idea Spice merger. How do you expect to end, what will be the resolution to this fight?
I think that we need a clear direction from the DoT. We have been writing to them since the time of the merger asking for clarity on what they want us to do and we are very open to any option that they recommend, if they want us to surrender license, we are very happy to surrender that.
So what are your expectations from 3G? Do you think it is going to be a game changer for the industry or it is just another service and may not significantly turn around the fortunes of the industry?
I think there was a debate about would 3G actually be something that could be game changing and I think we have all come around with a view as an industry that it is something that could potentially move the needle. It is a service that can give and edge to Idea over competition and I think that the investment that we have made has been very cautiously thought through and I think that we are pretty confident of a very successful launch sometime at the end of march and that would be another inflation point in the growth story of idea.
When you look at the 2G controversy, do you think that maybe corporate rivalry has probably hit a new low in this country?
Corporate rivalry is something that is prevalent in the corporate world globally so I do not think that it is anything special about India and I think that it is a regulatory environment in the telecom sector that is essentially to be blamed for all the chaos that ensued.
But we are likely to see such problems with any natural resource that is finite and where the government is essentially the arbitrator on who shall get those resources, for example mines, iron miles or coal or even energy.
I do not think so. I think it depends on the process of allocation. I think if it is a transparent process we should not have problems of the kind we had with the 2G. For example 3G was a very transparent and a very professionally managed process and no big issues there in terms of who got allotted what. So I think it really depends on how transparent and well articulated in advance the process is.