There has been a lot of talks regarding the merger of state-run telcos Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, but today, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha has confirmed that there’s no proposal to merge the companies. “There is no proposal to merge BSNL and MTNL. We had appointed a consultant to revive MTNL, who has given some recommendations. We are working on it,” the minister said. Also, after more than four years, MTNL has got a chairman and managing director. P K Purwar has been appointed as the Chairman of MTNL. The post was empty since May 30, 2014. Sinha also stated that India is not going to miss the 5G bus this time around.
Manoj Sinha ruled out the merger, at least for now. For the unaware, MTNL operates in Mumbai and Delhi circles, while BSNL operates in the rest of 20 circles. MTNL subscriber base is very less, while BSNL has over 110 million subscribers under its belt. BSNL also helps the government with several projects such as BharatNet in setting the public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Earlier this month, it was reported that there is a proposal given by the central public sector enterprises to merge all the state-run telecom firms such as MTNL and BSNL to create a big public sector entity. But that news turns out to be a false one as BSNL and MTNL will act as separate entities going forward. It will be interesting to see how MTNL folds up in the future under the leadership of new CMD.
Manoj Sinha spoke at length with reporters during a seminar on 5G technology. He reiterated that India will get all the 5G services in-line with other countries. “Getting 5G to reality is our government’s priority and we are serious about it,” he said.
BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava was also present at the seminar. Shrivastava quoted that the pan-India deployment of 5G will require at least Rs 50 lakh crore and he affirmed the deployment will happen by December 2019. PTI reported this news.
The Indian telecom sector is a debt-laden one at the moment. When asked about the reduction of cost in the 5G spectrum, Sinha stated that the department will take inputs from the Supreme Court, which had passed a judgement asking for the sale of spectrum assets.
“There’s a SC order in 2G case. We are bound by that. We’ve asked Trai to give recommendations and on that base, if needed, we will approach SC,” he Sinha said.
“5G services will be rolled out by a multitude of players beyond the current set of battered telecom service providers (TSPs),” he added.
Having said that, the telcos are going through the financial crisis right now due to the competition, but Sinha hinted that the 5G rollout will not be only by Telecom Service Providers, but others will also be investing in the technology, depending on use cases. “And if need be, the government will help. We are not going to miss the 5G bus this time,” he further added.
Since the entry of Reliance Jio, the Indian telecom sector has seen a drastic change. The next spectrum auction is expected to happen by the end of 2018 or in Q3 2018.