State-run telecom Operator Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) is planning to enter a Mobile tower-sharing deal with Essar Telecom Infrastructure Pvt Ltd (ETIPL) for its Mumbai circle.
The move has come at a time when MTNL is gearing up to launch 3G services in Mumbai on a commercial basis. MTNL has been sharing towers with various other infrastructure companies like Tata-Quippo, Reliance Infratel and GTL, in the Mumbai circle. The deal proposed with ETIPL is approximately for 140 towers to be shared by MTNL. The official, who did not wish to be identified, said the deal has been agreed upon by both the companies.
“Final talks are on and the deal is yet to be finalised in the coming few days,” said a source close to the development from ETIPL.MTNL currently has 600 Main BTS towers in the Mumbai circle and is planning to add another 150 in Mumbai and 90 in suburban Navi Mumbai by this financial year.
MTNL has gone ahead with the tower sharing deal to expand its network rapidly to make it 3G capable. It also has to improve its quality of service to retain its subscribers. Tower sharing as a concept has gained huge prominence amongst infrastructure companies and telecom operators. Tower sharing across technologies - GSM and CDMA—is expected to mitigate congestion and reduce call drops. The company has recently invested Rs 210 crore for its 3G equipment and its installation in the Mumbai circle. As per the MTNL official, the company still has to calculate the financial impact of this tower sharing deal with ETIPL. As stated earlier by the company, it is also looking at de-merger of its telecom tower arm.