RIL in talks with leading players to launch hi-speed broadband

 

In 2010, Mukesh Ambani-led RIL had forayed into the telecom arena with a bang, announcing the acquisition of Infotel, which had emerged as the sole winner of pan-India broadband spectrum, for Rs4,800 crore

Mumbai: Reliance Industries (RIL) on Friday said it is the process of finalising agreements with leading technology players and service providers to offer high-speed broadband wireless services in the country, but did not give any specific timeframe, reports PTI.

RIL “... is in the process of setting up a world-class broadband wireless network using state-of-the-art technologies and finalising the arrangement with leading global technology players, service providers and infrastructure providers, application developers, device manufacturers and others to help usher the fourth generation (4G) revolution into India,” the company said in a statement announcing its third quarter results.

However, the company did not divulge the timeframe for pan-India roll-out of its broadband services.

In 2010, Mukesh Ambani-led RIL had forayed into the telecom arena with a bang, announcing the acquisition of Infotel, which had emerged as the sole winner of pan-India broadband spectrum, for Rs4,800 crore.

In June last year, Mr Ambani had said that the services would be in the domain of education, healthcare, entertainment, financial services and government-citizen interfaces.

RIL, valued by the market at $50.2 billion, said it had cash in hand of Rs74,539 crore at the end of December.

Its outstanding debt at the end of the quarter stood at Rs74,503 crore, compared to Rs67,397 crore as of 31 March 2011.

Earlier during the month, Reliance Industries and Network 18 group had joined hands for a multi-layered deal under which the Mukesh Ambani-led corporate giant would sell a part of its interest in the Eenadu TV channels and would also fund promoters of the media group.

RIL did not specify the exact financial details of various transactions. Network 18 group company TV18 in a separate statement had said that its board has approved an outlay of up to Rs2,100 crore for the proposed acquisition of ETV assets.

Broadband and broadband-enabled digital services are the next big leap forward in the digital transformation of our knowledge economy, Mr Ambani had said.

 

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Subbarao meets FM ahead of monetary policy review

Headline inflation fell to a two-year low of 7.47% in December 2011. Food inflation entered the negative zone in mid-December and stood at (-)0.42 per cent as of 7th January, as per the latest numbers released by the government

New Delhi: Ahead of monetary policy review on 24th January, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor D Subbarao on Friday met finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and discussed the prevailing macro-economic situation, including inflation, reports PTI.

“I came to review the macro-economic situation with the finance minister...” Mr Subbarao told reporters after his meeting with Mr Mukherjee.

He said this was a standard practice for RBI governor to discuss the state of economy with the finance minister before review of the monetary policy.

After the meeting, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said, “RBI will announce the policy at the appropriate time. I had a discussion with RBI governor (on the issue).” 

The central bank had hiked interest rates by 375 basis points between March 2010 and October 2011 to deal with the persistent high inflation, including rising prices of food items.

In its last review in December, the RBI pressed the pause button on its monetary tightening measures and said that it might go for rate cuts in the future as inflation moderates.

Headline inflation fell to a two-year low of 7.47% in December 2011. Food inflation entered the negative zone in mid-December and stood at (-)0.42 per cent as of 7th January, as per the latest numbers released by the government.

At the same time, RBI is also confronted with moderation in economic growth. The government has cut its growth projection from 9% to about 7% for the current fiscal.

The economic growth rate slipped to 7.3% during the first half of the current fiscal from 8.6% in the corresponding period a year ago. In the second quarter (July-September), GDP growth slipped to 6.9%, the lowest level in over two years.

Earlier this week, the World Bank revised its India growth forecast downwards to 6.8% from 8% earlier, citing the tight monetary situation and contagion effect of the global downturn.

Amidst this backdrop, Mr Subbarao in the last review had said “from this point on, monetary policy actions are likely to reverse the cycle, responding to the risks to growth.”

 

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Plan panel, home ministry lock horns over Unique Identity project

The home ministry has expressed strong objection to the UIDAI’s proposal to extend the mandate for collection of data beyond the limit of 20 crore enrolments. However, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia Friday threw his full weight behind the UIDAI saying the project should continue

New Delhi: The home ministry and Planning Commission have locked horns in a big battle over which organisation will carry out the bio-metric collections for the ambitious Unique Identification Number project, reports PTI.

While home minister P Chidambaram has written a letter to prime minister Manmohan Singh seeking an early meeting of Cabinet to take a “final decision”, home secretary R K Singh has said that till the decision is taken “this impasse will continue”.

The home ministry has expressed strong objection to the proposal of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to extend the mandate for collection of data beyond the limit of 20 crore enrolments.

The ministry wants a clear decision as to which organisation will carry out a bio-metric collection in the field, a letter written by Mr Singh to Cabinet secretary Ajit Seth said.

However, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia Friday threw his full weight behind the UIDAI saying the project should continue.

“In our view, it should continue. This can be done, parallel with whatever others (home ministry) are doing.

Whatever UIDAI is doing is the right thing to do and it should be continued”, he said.

Mr Chidambaram wrote a strong letter to the prime minister urging him to instruct the Planning Commission to immediately bring a note to the Cabinet so that a final decision could be taken in the matter.

“In my respectful submission, it would not be in the interest of the government to allow the controversy to be played out in the media,” he said in the letter.

Mr Ahluwalia said that commission has sent a Cabinet note and hoped that it would come up before the Cabinet on Wednesday.

At the centre of the controversy is the collection of bio-metric data of all residents. While the home ministry has maintained that the Registrar General of India under it has been mandated to collect the data through the National Population Register, the Nandan Nilekani-led UIDAI wants the mandate beyond 20 crore.

The UIDAI has already collected information about 170 million people.

In his letter, Mr Chidambaram said the Registrar General of India has been tasked with the duty to collect the bio-metric data of all usual residents in the country.

The project is proceeding well and is expected to be completed by mid-2013, he said.

However, he added that the UIDAI has also been authorised to collect bio-metric data of up to 200 million people and the UIDAI wants to have its mandate extended.

Recalling that he has spoken several times to Mr Ahluwalia and requested the Planning Commission to bring a note to the Cabinet for obtaining a decision, the home minister said “I think it is important that there is clarity on the issue so that the work of capturing bio-metrics can go forward, hence, the need for an early decision.

He also complained that “some inspired stories” have appeared in the media painting the MHA black and presenting distorted facts.

The home secretary, in his letter to the Cabinet secretary, said that the ministry finds it difficult to understand that while the UIDAI is willing to accept the documents which have been issued by third party persons who are not even present at the time of enrolments, it finds it difficult to accept the data collected by the government servants for processing.

 

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