Parliamentary Panel Asks Government to Allocate 4G Spectrum to BSNL and MTNL at the Earliest

The government was asked to allocate 4G spectrum to both BSNL and MTNL at the earliest so that the PSUs will be able to compete with private telecom operators and survive in the competitive Indian telecom market. The Standing Committee of Information Technology has asked the government to allocate the required spectrum to the state-run telcos. “The Committee is of the view that both BSNL and MTNL will lose the data market if they are not given 4G services soon. To compete and survive in the telecom market, the Committee feels that 4G spectrum should be given to them at the earliest,” BJP MP Anurag Singh Thakur said in the report tabled in Parliament. Both Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) have already submitted their proposals for the allotment of spectrum. If government allocates the required spectrum, BSNL and MTNL will launch 4G services in the telecom circles where they’re operating.


MTNL has its operations in Delhi and Mumbai telecom circles, while BSNL is operating in 20 telecom circles. It’s also revealed that the telcos have requested for 5 MHz block of radiowaves in 2100 MHz band, as it was reported earlier. “The Committee has been informed that Hon’ble Minister (Manoj Sinha) had declared on the floor of the House that government is shortly going to take a final decision in the matter and the department is actively considering giving 4G spectrum,” the report further added.

Furthermore, the allotment of 4G spectrum to BSNL and MTNL will have a negative impact on the wireless and broadband segments as it’s against equity infusion.

Since early 2014, BSNL has been saying that it will roll out 4G services very soon, however, that didn’t happen until now. Very recently, the operator introduced 4G services based on the 3G spectrum in five cities of Kerala, meaning the telco is ready to launch the high-speed 4G services. However, the government is not allocating spectrum to the firm.

Yesterday, we reported that BSNL and MTNL are amongst the worst performing government-owned firms alongside Air India. BSNL showed some signs of profit in the financial year 2016, however, after the entry of Reliance Jio, the telco again started suffering. As of December 2017, the MTNL has an outstanding debt of Rs 16,870 crore, followed by BSNL with close to Rs 9,000 crore debt.

This number might sound like a small one when compared to the debt-laden private firms, but the government is under serious pressure regarding the future of BSNL and MTNL. For the year 2018-19, the projected revenue of BSNL is Rs 28,500 crore, while the expenditure is expected to come around Rs 35,850 crore.

Furthermore, the Parliamentary Panel also requested the government to consider the voluntary retirement scheme submitted by both the PSUs at the earliest. In MTNL’s case, the company is incurring more than 76% of its revenue of staff itself, which is by far a huge number when compared to 4% to 6% by private firms.

And the Committee is in a state of mind to reduce the staff. Nevertheless, the government should allocate 4G spectrum to both the telcos at the earliest, at least to allow them to compete with private firms. Recently, BSNL inked a deal with Finnish gear maker Nokia for rolling out the 4G services in 10 telecom circles.

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48 Comments on "Parliamentary Panel Asks Government to Allocate 4G Spectrum to BSNL and MTNL at the Earliest"


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March 14, 2018 7:09 pm 7:09 PM

The govt. will not allocate it based on cripled excuses , aren’ t they ashamed of this nasty support giving to d private sector. both UPA and NDA are in the same boat in cheating the public

Kaushik IMA
March 15, 2018 7:56 pm 7:56 PM

Hmm. UPA was close to mittal and NDA is close to ambani. Guess who is caught in between?

Airtel User
March 15, 2018 11:22 am 11:22 AM

Ashame should be those private companies which begs for loans then dont repay it, all such products from private companies should be boycotted.

Adil Wadia
March 14, 2018 4:57 pm 4:57 PM

BSNL MTNL staff have a sarkari mindset. They are selfish only to keep their jobs till retirement age, and not at all interested in customer service. They are not target driven, don’t have a competitive mind and complacent because they will retain their salaries and benefits even if they don’t work. Even 20 Mhz chunk of spectrum in 700 Mhz will not work for these sarkari companies till they decide to change their outlook to doing business.

S Gopal
March 15, 2018 2:00 pm 2:00 PM
The issues highlighted are issues that are existent in the two PSU companies, however,the statement is quite sweeping in terms of stating that the workforce is uninterested in customer service. While the attributes assigned are identifiable with certain number of employees in the Customer Care Centres, it is not the case with those employees who ensure that the massive infrastructure is continuously expanded improved and above all maintained. An example is those employees who during natural calamities, work round the clock in hazardous conditions to restore the network (such as during the Uttarakhand floods and Cyclone Hudhud) or keep the… Read more »
Airtel User
March 15, 2018 11:58 pm 11:58 PM

+100 S Gopal, you just spoke my words.
We need to support BSNL to counter monopoly of JAVOID.

Priyansh Singh
March 19, 2018 11:10 pm 11:10 PM


March 14, 2018 7:57 pm 7:57 PM

Well Said

Girish Gowda | BengaLuru
March 14, 2018 4:47 pm 4:47 PM

It’s too late now. Why burden them with 4G spectrum charges when 5G will be there in 2 years? Throw away half the staff and start fresh with 5G and advertise yourself as the first 5G player in the market. Also BSNL should be allowed to bid and not given the spectrum for whatever price the government sets from next time.

S Gopal
March 15, 2018 2:04 pm 2:04 PM

I agree with you that while they have probably missed the 4G boat, they ought to concentrate on catching the 5G boat.

With regards to staff, since the Indian economy became more free market oriented, BSNL and its previous avatar (Department of Telecom Operations/Services) have slowed down on the recruitment drive, whereby the salary burden is steadily declining as more and more staff retires and less and less new recruits join the rank.

Airtel User
March 16, 2018 12:00 am 12:00 AM

Here comes Mr S Gopal, talking sensible and logical unbiased. +1