Guwahati: The UK-based New Call Telecom today said it is in talks with 12 Indian companies, including 3-4 firms in the northeastern region, for acquiring them over the next few months to expand its presence in the country. The company, which has announced an investment of USD 300 million (nearly Rs 2,000 crore) in India over the next 12-18 months, is looking to create 500 jobs in North East and set up a telecom academy in the region.
New Call Telecom Ltd is also planning to launch a USD 50 million (about Rs 330 crore) India-centric fund to promote entrepreneurs and startup companies. “India offers a huge potential for our business and North East is one of the very vibrant regions of the country. Somehow, the region was left behind in the connectivity story,” New Call Telecom Group Chief Executive Officer Nigel Eastwood told reporters here.
The fund will be managed by firm’s parent New Sparta. The company wants to address the gap in connectivity, particularly in wi-fi, in North East and plans to build infrastructure here, he added. “We are talking to about a dozen companies in India for acquisition. In North East, we are negotiating with 3-4 companies. We hope to acquire them within this year,” Eastwood said without sharing further details.
He said the company plans to create direct jobs for around 500 people in the region, particularly in Assam and Manipur. Last month, New Call Telecom had said it would invest USD 100 million over the next 18 months to acquire mid-sized firms in India as it expands presence in the broadband and value-added services market here.
“I am married to a Manipuri woman and so I have a special feeling for the North East. This evening I am meeting Assam Chief Minister, while next week I will meet Manipur CM. I hope the two governments will support the idea of digitising these states,” Eastwood said.
Digitisation, especially wi-fi, would help the states to leverage on the huge potential of technology in various sectors like tourism, he added. “I am also planning to set up a telecom academy next year in North East. This will be in either of the two states. I will propose it to both the CMs and evaluate the opportunities accordingly,” the CEO said. Asked about the size of investment in North East, Eastwood said it will depend on opportunities, but the company is “ready for anything to develop the connectivity”.
He said airports, railway stations, shopping malls, offices and important tourist spots in the region can be provided with wi-fi connectivity. “Currently we are present with around 10,000 wi-fi hotspots in India. Our plan is to have one million hotspots over the next five years in the
country and a quarter of that can be in North East,” Eastwood said.