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Dr. Mahesh Uppal is the Director of Com First (India), a consultancy company based in Delhi that specializes in policy, regulation and strategy. He has over 20 years of experience of telecommunications in both its roles as a major industry and utility as well as a tool to deliver national development, productivity and competitiveness. His views on these issues are frequently sought by media including TV, Radio, and Print. He has advised several major national and international corporations, development agencies as well as government and civil society organizations.  These include:

  • Governments, International Agencies Governments of India, Canada, Seychelles & Nepal, International Development Research Centre, Canada, Canadian International Development Agency, World Bank, International Telecommunication Union, Asian Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, INSTRAW, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
  • Private Sector Players:  (some names confidential) AT&T, BPL, Hutch, Spice, Idea, Motorola, Vodafone, Indian Infrastructure Publishing, Microsoft, HCL, Indian Express, Indicus Analytics WDHB, Colorado
  • Non-government Organizations/Foundations: National Council of Applied Economic Research, Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung, Consumer Unity and Trust Society, PANOS London, South Asian Forum for Infrastructure Regulators, ActionAid, Indian Council for International Economic Relations, Aspen Institute, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Aspen Institute
  • Industry Bodies  Cellular Operators Association of India, Internet Service Providers Association of India, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry


To offer Consulting Services in Information and Communications Technologies in and around the following areas/themes

•   Policy, Regulation, Competition, Strategy, Capacity Building, Training

•   Broadband, Wireless, 3G, BWA, Rural Broadband

•   Radio Spectrum, Spectrum management, Allocation and Pricing

•   Mobile communications, Wireless infrastructure, Value-Added Services,

•   Rural communications, ICT for Development (ICT4D), Rural Broadband

•   Internet, e-commerce, e-Governance

Highlights of Recent Professional Activities

Major Professional Activities

  • Report for ITU on the eco-system for rural broadband in India with emphasis on identifying optimal conditions for providing viable broadband services Advice to several international agencies on various aspects of telecom reform.
  • Advice to major infrastructure players on regulatory affairs and business opportunities in active and passive (civil) telecom infrastructure like towers
  • Advice on various regulatory and competition issues facing ISPs including two presentations to the statutory body, Competition Commission of India
  • Adviser to Indian and foreign players on market entry, competition, disputes, licensing etc
  • Extensive advise to players as well as researched writing on rural telephony issues
  • Report for Indicus Analytics on policy options in spectrum allocation with special emphasis on bottom-of-the-pyramid users.
  • Inputs to political parties, consumer groups & trade unions on emerging issues in telecommunications
  • STPI is a Government of India Department of Electronics facility to provide data connectivity to over 100 major software companies of India. Provided advice to STPI to restructure itself in the light of new opportunities presented by deregulation and the regulatory challenges faced by STPI.
  • Advice to international NGO on a strategy for information & communication technologies
  • Resource person for industry bodies including as chair for several panels in conferences
  • Part of US-based  GLG Council’s legal and regulatory consultancy services to international clients including analysts, investment firms etc; acquired 'scholar' status
  • Co-author  of two chapters in “India: Impact of Mobiles” in the prestigious Vodafone Policy Series.
  • Consulting Editor of a supplement on Telecommunications for Indian Express in 2006
  • Chief Consultant to two reports on India's wireless & internet services respectively
  • Author of the chapter on telecom sector on a study of the competition environment in India
  • Rapporteur for Aspen Institute India's high-level international round table on 'Future of Indian Mobile & E- Governance in India' held in 2008 and 2009 respectively
  • Produced several documents for Grameen Gyan Abhiyan a coalition of government, industry, and civil society led by the renowned MS Swaminathan, to promote knowledge connectivity in rural India


Sep 1985May 1987


City University
Jul 1972Apr 1974


Delhi University


Monitoring and review of ICT projects. Extensive knowledge of ICT for rural development. Recognized as a key resource in regulation and policy in telecommunications in India and invited to several international telecom policy meetings Wide knowledge and experience of working in public policy and regulatory issues Experience of working with technical issues Extensive academic research experience obtained in world-class institutions in India and abroad- Post graduate degrees in Science and Humanities. Have been a resource for senior public and industry leaders to draft speeches and presentations on various national and international platforms. Wide experience of making oral and written presentations to diverse audiences – government/industry/civil society Wide experience of working with leaders of industry, civil society, academia, unions, political parties Contributor and resource person for print and audio-visual media. Have been invited to appear on almost all major TV channels in India and some abroad, comment on issues relating to telecommunication industry, policy and regulation. Resource person for consumer groups, unions, Industry Chambers (FICCI, CII, ASSOCHAM), Extensive computer skills, knowledge of most common software packages;   

Work experience

Feb 1993Present


Com First (India) Pvt Limited

Primarily, an independent consultant for the last 20 years. Director of a self managed small consultancy company, Com First (India) Private Limited, located in New Delhi, India, which takes on projects in Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), telecommunications policy, regulation and strategy with particular focus on:

  • Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), for development
  • Design and Review of ICT projects
  • Development of Rural Communications in Developing Countries, Including Tele-Centres and Knowledge Centres Etc.
  • Wireless connectivity including 3G and Broadband Wireless Access (BWA)
  • Governance
  • Support for creating independent regulatory bodies and for capacity building 


Policy Advisor in the five-member team that carried out the detailed work to set up the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India; Later, advised on capacity building of TRAI

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India

Member, Standing Advisory Body on National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN)

Department of Telecommunications, Government of India

Part of Jury for forthcoming awards to ICT innovators in the field of mobile communications Digital Empowerment Foundation

Digital Empowerment Foundation

Member, Communications Convergence Committee, Associated Chambers of Commerce (ASSOCHAM)

Associated Chambers of Commerce (ASSOCHAM)

Member, Telecommunications Committee, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)

Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)

Subject Expert (CT) for India Innovation Awards awarded by the EMPI Business School and Indian Express

EMPI Business School and Indian Express
Oct 1994Present

Member, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, London, UK

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals

Member, Advisory Committee, Centre for Telecom Policy Studies (CTPS), Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India

Centre for Telecom Policy Studies (CTPS) & Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India
Dec 1995Present

Part of ITU faculty at seminar for regional regulators and policymakers in Bangladesh and Maldives.

International Telecom Union

International ICT policy forum organized by IDRC and Lirne Asia over a 3 day period in Sri Lanka and Indonesia

IDRC and Lirne Asia
May 2005Jun 2005

Reviewed for IDRC, Canada, ICT for development projects in Laos, Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia to prepare a report on 'lessons learned'

IDRC, Canada
Jun 1996Feb 2005

Telecommunications Advisor to Canadian International Development Agency in India. Regular collaboration with staff in HQ at Ottawa. Undertook 4 work trips to Canada

Canadian International Development Agency
Jun 1999Jun 2000

Worked closely with Nepal’s Ministry of Information and Communication to support policy making

Ministry of Information and Communication, Nepal
Jul 1998Aug 1999

Supported Ministry of communications in developing an interconnect agreement between the incumbent and the new entrant mobile operators.

Ministry of Communications, Seychelles

Technical consultant to international NGO which provides articles written by women across the world to mainstream media. Responsible for advice of hardware and software, setting up several database and communications systems to manage content.

Womens Feature Service
Aug 1988Dec 1989

Consultant working in Italy for a technology information sharing project involving 10 developing countries

United Nations Development Program
Nov 1980Jul 1988

Academic research (postdoctoral) in Heriot-Watt, Cambridge, Sussex University

Heriot-Watt, Cambridge, Sussex University