TRAI starts consultation for 4G telephony

The telecom regulator has started the process and would come out with a consultation paper to look into various issues relating to 4G telecom services, even as the Indian government debates over the auction of 3G spectrum

Even as the government debates as to when the auction of spectrum for 3G telephony will take place, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Monday started consultation for the next level of telecom services, reports PTI.

The fourth generation or 4G technology offers download at faster speeds known as ultra-broadband and high-definition video on demand, among other such services.

"We are starting the process and would come out with a consultation paper to look into various issues relating to 4G telecom services," TRAI chairman JS Sarma said.

He, however, said categorically that this is not a suggestion to skip the 3G process, as the government has taken definitive steps and may auction the spectrum soon.

"3G has been delayed badly. I don't want 4G or LTE (Long Term Evolution) to meet the same fate. Other countries are catching up with 4G and that is why we are taking advance action," he said.

4G or LTE is a successor to 3G and 2G standards, with the aim of providing a wide range of data rates up to ultra-broadband (gigabit-speed) Internet access to mobile as well as stationary users.

TRAI would look into the various aspects, including spectrum band to be allotted for 4G service and quantum and modes of allotment to the operators.

Mr Sarma said that the consultation paper will be issued “very shortly”. The paper would throw up various questions for the industry and other stakeholders for deliberation, culminating into recommendations by the TRAI.

In fact, a number of foreign players like US-based Motorola and Ericsson have already started testing 4G or LTE technology in various parts of the world.

Asked whether the government has sought recommendations from TRAI for 4G telephony, Mr Sarma said, "TRAI is required to examine various issues concerning 4G and we do not want it to be delayed like 3G and that is why we have started the process.”

"In fact, when I had taken up charge as TRAI chairman, I had said that we should be technologically ready. When we start is a different process," he added.

Motorola had recently said that it would be approaching the Department of Telecom (DoT) to seek spectrum for testing its equipment.

Motorola has become the first telecom vendor to complete throughput up to 70 Mbps, a senior official working with the company said, adding that the LTE technology can be offered in 2.1-2.3 MHz spectrum band and DoT is looking at the availability of this frequency.

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    Financial hotshot Sameer Sain’s future role in Future Capital in doubt

    Sameer Sain had come from Goldman Sachs to make Future Capital Holdings a financial powerhouse. The stock listed at Rs909 in February 2008 and is down 81% in two years. Sain has now stepped down as MD & CEO

    As Sameer Sain steps down from Future Capital Holdings (FCH), one more bull-market dream lies shattered. FCH was supposed to be Kishore Biyani’s dream financial vehicle to extract value from footfalls into Pantaloon stores. Instead, he has now decided to split its business into financial services retailing and investment advisory. Sameer Sain, the star he had recruited from Goldman Sachs, has stepped down from his position as chief executive and managing director of the company. He has sold 10 lakh shares recently, reducing his 11.85% stake in the company.

    FCH is currently in the process of splitting its retailing and investment advisory between the key promoters, Sameer Sain and Kishore Biyani. Mr Sain has now been appointed as vice-chairman of the company. He will be heading FCH’s investment advisory while distribution of financial services will be looked after by Mr Biyani. FCH is in the process of appointing a new chief executive and managing director.

    When Mr Sain joined Future Capital last year, institutional investors pumped in money, banking on his stellar track record. Mr Sain was a managing director with Goldman Sachs and head of the special investments group, co-head of wealth management for Europe, the Middle-East and Africa, and a member of the executive committee of Goldman Sachs Bank Zurich. He was supposed to create a financial powerhouse for Mr Biyani by leveraging the reach and customer base of Pantaloon.

    For the quarter ended December 2009, FCH’s sales have fallen by 68% while operating profit is down 45% compared to the corresponding year-ago quarter. Net profit is down 37% at Rs3.94crore.

    FCH was supposed to have multiple revenue streams. Apart from selling insurance, consumer loans, credit cards and wealth management services, it is an adviser to various offshore and private equity funds. FCH Ltd was incorporated in October 2005 and started its retail financial services business in June 2007. Taking advantage of the bull market of 2007, it made a public issue in February 2008. The stock listed at Rs909 on 1 February 2008. Now after two years, it is quoting at Rs173, resulting in an 81% erosion in investors’ wealth. FCH manages four funds under its real-estate advisory services. FCH’s retail financial services started in June 2007 with an agreement with Pantaloon Retail India Ltd (PRIL), under which FCH has exclusive right to provide financial products and services at present and future malls, stores and retail outlets in India which are owned, controlled or managed by PRIL and its subsidiaries. FCH’s private equity arm, Indivision India Partners, manages a $425-million fund that focuses on providing growth capital to businesses which benefit from the growth in consumption in the Indian sub-continent.

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    Maruti Suzuki eyes 100% jump in exports in FY10

    Maruti Suzuki has said that it expects to double its exports to about 1.6 lakh units this fiscal, while it is looking at overall sales growth of over 20%

    The country's largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSI), on Monday said that it expects to double its exports to about 1.6 lakh units this fiscal, while it is looking at a 20% overall sales growth, reports PTI.

    "Last fiscal, we exported 80,000 units. We are expecting 100% growth in exports this fiscal," MSI executive officer for marketing and sales, Mayank Pareekh told reporters on the sidelines of an AIMA event in New Delhi.

    The company's overseas sales growth was driven mainly by the export of its flagship model A-Star, which clocked sales of over one lakh units till December 2010, within 11 months of launch. MSI aims to cross two lakh units of exports by 2010-11.

    The A-star, which is produced only in the company's Manesar facility, is exported primarily to Europe and countries like Chile, Angola, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria and the UAE, where it is sold as the Suzuki Celerio.

    It also contract manufactures the model for Japanese car major Nissan, which sells it in the European market as Pixo.

    Recently, MSI had kick-started exporting its latest model Ritz to South East Asia as well to expand its export portfolio, besides exploring the West Asia market.

    Commenting on the overall sales growth of the company, Mr Pareekh said, "So far on an average, we have been growing at about 20%-22% this fiscal and we expect this to continue. Overall for the entire fiscal, we expect this level of growth."

    Maruti had sold over 800,000 units, of which the domestic market contributed 722,000 units, Mr Pareekh said.

    "We will produce a million units this fiscal and of course we will try to sell this within the year. So far we have sold about 840,000 units this fiscal," he said. The company has rationalised and reactivated its capacities and "currently we are producing at peak of our level", he said.

    On rising commodity prices, Mr Pareekh said that they are still going up and pressure on margins continued. He, however, declined to comment if MSI would look for another round of price hikes. "As a company policy, at first we try to absorb it. In January we increased prices by less than 1%."

    On Budget expectations, he said that the government should continue with the policies that helped the auto industry to grow at about 21% in the last 12 months.

    "It will be too early to exit from stimulus measures as those were the main reasons for growth of the industry. It is too early to say that the auto industry has fully recovered (from the slump due to the global economic crisis)," he said.

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