Telecom minister shuns all talks about shutting down MTNL

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MTNL MobileTelecom minister Ravishankar Prasad has refuted all rumours that have been going rife about the possibility of shutting down of public sector unit MTNL. Earlier we reported how talks about shut down of 5 PSUs were rampant out of which we only knew for sure about 3 units of HMT which is a watch manufacturing company as Heavy Industries minister Anant Geete had disclosed during the questioning hour.

The identities of the remaining two PSUs slated for shut down remained shrouded in mystery which made analysts calculate taking into consideration the list of 65 sick PSUs released by the government which included the names of Air India and MTNL which appeared to be strong candidates. But telecom minister Ravishankar Prasad has in a public statement cleared it that the Government has no plans of shutting down the company.

MTNL in the last financial year has managed to report a net profit of Rs. 7820 crore but in the two preceding financial years it has reported net losses of Rs. 5388 crore and Rs. 5490 crore respectively. The government is taking every effort to revive the loss-making companies MTNL and BSNL and to bring them at par with the private telcos. It has refunded the money for BWA spectrum surrendered by MTNL in both Mumbai and Delhi and by BSNL in some circles, it has also offered to refund the remainder duration of its 800MHz spectrum held in Mumbai and Delhi which it is currently not using for commercial purposes. Last year the government was also considering the potential merger of MTNL and BSNL but that did not materialise as MTNL had a lot of debt towards unpaid dues for its employees. TRAI has also cancelled all call termination charges for voice calls originating or terminating on landlines so as to give the much needed boost to the wireline business of both state run telcos.

It remains to be seen what lies in the future for PSU telecom operators, whether they are able to fight for survival in a private operator dominated market or shut shop by giving VRS to its employees. Let us know your views and opinions through your comments.

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Esmail is our very own in-house spectrum specialist. He is passionate about Telecom, DTH and OTT video streaming apps. When not writing an article, you can find him binge watching shows on Netflix while sipping on a cup of coffee.

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