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Vodafone plans to infuse up to Rs 3,375 crore into debt-ridden Vodafone Idea

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NEW DELHI:Promoter Vodafone plans to infuse up to Rs 3,375 crore into debt-ridden Vodafone Idea Ltd as part of the company’s proposed raising of funds worth Rs 14,200 crore.

Besides Vodafone, Aditya Birla Group plans to pump in up to Rs 1,125 crore, according to a regulatory filing on Friday.

The telecom operator will seek shareholders’ approval for raising up to Rs 14,500 crore as well as increase its authorised share capital to Rs 75,000 crore at its the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to be held on March 26.

The board of Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) has already approved the fund raising plan, which includes Rs 4,500 crore coming in from Aditya Birla Group and Vodafone, while the remaining amount of Rs 10,000 crore would be mopped up by way of equity or debt instruments.

As per the EGM notice, the company will seek the consent of the shareholders to offer, issue and allot up to 338.34 crore equity shares of face value of Rs 10 each for cash at a price of Rs 13.30 apiece, aggregating up to Rs 4,500 crore to the promoters.

Vodafone’s group firm Euro Pacific Securities and Prime Metals will subscribe to 253.75 crore equity shares. This will be 75 per cent of the total equity shares to be issued by the company on preferential basis, indicating a contribution of around Rs 3,374.9 crore from the British telecom major.

Aditya Birla Group firm Oriana Investments Pte will subscribe to 84.58 crore equity shares which is about 25 per cent of the preferential shares of VIL as part of the fund raise, implying a contribution of Rs 1,125 crore.

Currently, Birlas own more than 27 per cent stake in VIL while Vodafone Plc holds over 44 per cent shareholding in VIL.

VIL will also seek shareholders’ nod to increase the authorised share capital to Rs 75,000 crore, divided into 7,000 crore equity shares of Rs 10 each and 500 crore preference share of Rs 10 each.

Telecom service providers, VIL in particular, got a shot in the arm with the government last year approving a blockbuster relief package that included a four-year break for companies from paying statutory dues, permission to share scarce airwaves and 100 per cent foreign investment through the automatic route.

The government had also given telcos the option to convert the interest amount pertaining to the moratorium period into equity.

Subsequently, VIL opted to pay interest dues of around Rs 16,000 crore through preferential shares and the move will result in the government holding 35.8 per cent stake in the company.

The proposal is yet to be accepted by the government.

VIL will also seek shareholders approval to appoint Krishna Kishore Maheshwari as non-executive director of the company.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Appointments

Airtel appoints former Cabinet Secretary as independent director

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel, India’s premier communications solutions provider, today announced the appointment of PK Sinha and Shyamal Mukherjee as Independent Directors on its Board of Directors. The appointments are subject to approval by shareholders at Airtel’s upcoming Annual General Meeting.

PK Sinha, IAS (Retd.), served as the Cabinet Secretary for more than 4 years before moving to the Prime Minister’s Office. He retired from there in March 2021 after 44 years of continuous service to the nation. He has been a Government nominee Director in numerous major Public Sector Undertakings and is well versed with the principles of healthy corporate governance.

Shyamal Mukherjee is the former Chairman and Senior Partner of PwC lndia and was at the forefront of making PwC a future-ready firm. Shyamal began his professional journey with PwC in 1984 and became a partner in 1993. He held several leadership roles at PwC India, including Brand & Strategy leader and Leader of India Tax practice. Shyamal also serves as an Independent Director on the board of ITC Ltd and a member of its Audit Committee.

The Company added that Manish Kejriwal, Lead Independent Director, would be retiring on September 25, 2022 on completion of his second tenure. Shishir Priyadarshi would be leaving the board with effect from October 31, 2022 to devote time towards his other professior,21 commitments. D. K. Mittal IAS (Retd.), would be designated as Lead Independent Director with effect from September 26, 2022.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Airtel said: “Airtel takes pride in having one of the most distinguished Board of Directors that is committed to high standards of corporate governance. These appointments are made with a long term view – to make the board future-ready, address the long term requirements of the Company and ensure smooth transition in key board positions. On behalf of the Board, I welcome PK Sinha and Shyamal Mukherjee and their valuable experience will add immense value to Airtel’s growth journey. I also want to thank fv1ani:;h Kejriwal and Shishir Priyadarshi for their tremendous contribution to Airtel.”

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5g

Narendra Modi inaugurates India’s first 5G testbed; says aims to roll out 6G end of decade

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NEW DELHI: India is targeting the rollout of 6G telecom network, which will provide ultra high speed internet connectivity, by the end of the decade, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday.

India currently has 3G and 4G telecom networks and companies are gearing up to launch 5G over the next few months.

Speaking at the silver jubilee event of telecom sector regulator TRAI here, he said it is estimated that the 5G network rollout will add USD 450 billion to the Indian economy.

“This is not just increasing internet speed but also the pace of development and creating jobs,” he said, adding the 5G technology will bring positive change in governance of the country, ease of living and ease of doing business.

It will boost growth in agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and logistics, he said.

Connectivity, Modi said, will decide the progress of the country in the 21st century and so modern day infrastructure needs to be rolled out.

According to the prime minister, a task force has started work on rolling out 6G network by the end of the decade.

Taking potshots at the previous Congress-led UPA government, Modi said the 2G era was symbolic of policy paralysis and corruption.

The country, under his government, has moved transparently to 4G and is now going to 5G.

Teledensity and internet users are fast expanding, he said, adding that mobile manufacturing units in India have expanded from 2 to over 200 and the country is now the world’s biggest mobile manufacturing hub.

The prime minister also said that his government has encouraged healthy competition that has led to India having one of the cheapest telecom data charges in the world.

Indigenous 5G test bed in telecom sector is an important step in India’s self-reliance, he added.

PM Modi virtually inaugurates India’s first 5G testbed costing Rs 220 crore

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inaugurated the country’s first 5G testbed to enable startups and industry players to test and validate their products locally and reduce dependence on foreign facilities.

The testbed has been set up at a cost of around Rs 220 crore. Speaking at the silver jubilee celebrations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), the Prime Minister said the 5G testbed is an important step for self-reliance in the direction of critical and modern technologies.

“I invite youth friends, researchers and companies to utilise the testing facility for making 5G technology,” Modi said.

The 5G testbed has been developed as a multi-institute collaborative project by eight institutes led by IIT Madras.

In the absence of a 5G testbed, startups and other industry players were required to go abroad to test and validate their products for installation in a 5G network.

The other institutes that participated in the project are IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IISc Bangalore, Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering & Research (SAMEER) and Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT).

The testbed facility will be available at 5 different locations.

Source: Press Trust of India

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5g

5G now in 1947 cities across 72 countries

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NEW DELHI: Viavi Solutions said that it has released new industry data revealing that the number of cities with 5G networks now stands at 1,947 globally. Despite the pandemic, 5G cities came online at a rate of nearly two per day, with the addition of 635 new 5G cities in 2021, according to the new VIAVI report “The State of 5G,” now in its sixth year.

By the end of January 2022, 72 countries had 5G networks in place, with the newest crop of 5G countries comprising Argentina, Bhutan, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Malta and Mauritius, which all came online in the second half of 2021. Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) has overtaken Asia Pacific including Greater China (APAC) to become the region with the most 5G cities at 839. APAC has 689 5G cities and the Americas has 419.

Not surprisingly, the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China are the countries with the most 5G cities. China now has 356 5G cities and the United States has 296. The Philippines remained in the third spot globally with a total of 98 5G cities.

Currently, most 5G networks deployed are Non-Standalone (NSA) networks, meaning that 5G equipment is added to existing 4G network infrastructure. There are currently 24 Standalone (SA) 5G networks globally, meaning that they have been built using a new 5G core network. It is widely considered that many of the next-generation use cases and monetization models associated with 5G, beyond enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) will only be possible when Standalone 5G networks built on new 5G core networks are in place.

The State of 5G also highlights the growing Open RAN ecosystem, combining mobile operators as well as software and infrastructure vendors, seeking to develop an open, virtualized Radio Access Network (RAN) with embedded Artificial Intelligence (AI) control. As of March 2022, 64 operators have publicly announced their participation in the development of Open RAN networks. This breaks down to 23 live deployments of Open RAN networks, 34 in the trial phase with a further seven operators that have publicly announced they are in the pre-trial phase.

“5G continued to expand, despite the headwinds of a global pandemic,” said Sameh Yamany, CTO, VIAVI Solutions. “What comes next in 5G is the reinforcement of networks. This will take a couple of forms. Firstly, we expect to see more Standalone 5G networks, which will deliver on much of the promise of 5G, both for the operator and for the wider ecosystem of users. And secondly, we expect to see Open RAN continue its rapid development and start to become a de facto standard. VIAVI will continue to play a central role in testing those new networks as they are built and expanded.”

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