Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), the sister telecom company of BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited), both of which are run by the government, is having a jolly day in the stock market on Friday. The company’s shares went up as much as 11% on Friday morning. At the time of writing, MTNL is trading for Rs 25.55, which is 7.3% in the green.
State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited’s (BSNL), whose revival process is heading to a more pronounced outcome now, is set for a competitive play in the strategic telecom market, dominated by private companies Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel. Thanks to the Centre’s strategic move to rescue the ailing service provider.
BSNL is a behemoth that has a cultural influence of the erstwhile British era, and witnessed the government monopoly, competition with private players, and finally becoming a fringe player. The state-controlled telco is now adopting an inevitable change.
Some two year ago, the Delhi-headquartered telco which was marred with chaos with rumours abound about its closure and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mundane attitude, is now set to emerge as a sector stalwart on the back of a reduced workforce, soon-to-launch next generation (4G) commercial network, and growing enterprise and wireline business.
Hon’ble Minister of Communications, Electronics, and IT Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw launched Gatishakti Sanchar Portal in New Delhi today.
This integrated and centralized portal will facilitate smooth deployment of digital communications infrastructure across the country. To streamline the process and for faster clearance of Right of Way (RoW) with transparency, accountability, and effective monitoring of various digital-based projects, this portal was envisaged.
Telecom News : The central government on Wednesday stated that the proposed merger of MTNL operations with BSNL is deferred due to “financial reasons including high debt of MTNL.”
In a written reply to a question on Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Communications Shri Devusinh Chauhan informed that the government had approved the revival plan of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) on October 23, 2019, which inter-alia includes in-principle approval for merger of MTNL and BSNL. However, the proposal is currently under examination and stands deferred.
Telecom News : The indigenously-developed fourth generation or 4G technology to be deployed by state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) would be economical and overcome network security-related fears such as hidden backdoors in telecom equipment, a top official said.
“The 4G technology (developed indigenously) would work, and is very critical for India from a security and economic perspective, because you will get to make in India and also you will ensure that there are no hidden backdoors which can be exploited later on,” K. Rajaraman, secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) told ET Telecom.
The locally-developed 4G technology could be a milestone for India as it may further seek to reduce dependency on multinationals such as Finnish Nokia and Swedish Ericsson dominating the Indian market while Chinese gear maker Huawei is accused of backdoors by the US and a few of its European allies.
Earlier, the UK-based Vodafone said that it had found vulnerabilities in equipment supplied by Shenzhen-based Huawei including hidden backdoors that could have provided unlawful access to the Chinese company.
In July last year, BSNL selected the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)-driven consortium including the state-owned Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) which has designed and developed core equipment indigenously.
The Mumbai-based TCS and C-DoT have deployed a trial network for BSNL at Ambala and Chandigarh with a 120-day deadline which was later extended up to December 31, and later to January 2022, and a further breather was given to the Tata-backed group to fully conform to network tests.
“I feel that maybe in April, it (PoC completion) may be announced. I have personally visited some of the sites. Performance is good. I think there are a few more tests which have to be completed while the most critical ones are all done,” the official added.
Recently, the Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan said that following the next generation network demonstration, the purchase order (PO) for 4G equipment would likely be placed by BSNL in April.
“In the last Cabinet meeting, in-principle approval was given to BSNL 5G. So it’s only a matter of customer readiness, and if they are ready to switch on with the 4G PoC, the equipment is all 5G-enabled. With some tweaks, I think they will be able to move to 5G.
Earlier, the public sector research and development firm C-DoT said that the consortium has a seamless network scalability roadmap and would plan to upgrade the BSNL network to the fifth generation or 5G non-standalone (NSA) by end of 2022, and to 5G standalone (SA) by 2023.
Telecom News – The government is considering providing a second, but smaller revival package to BSNL and preliminary talks have already begun in this regard. According to sources, the ailing state-owned firm, which was given a Rs 70,000-crore revival package in October 2019, is now seeking support for 4G rollout and settlement of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues owed by it, to clean up its balance sheet. The firm owes around Rs 5,000 crore as AGR dues.
Official sources said that a few preliminary meetings between the department of telecommunications (DoT) and BSNL officials have already taken place to chart out a revival strategy, which would address the issues raised by the company. Further, the government is looking at increasing the scope of BSNL by allocating the BharatNet project to it after winding up BBNL (Bharat Broadband Network). “In such a scenario, some kind of financial support needs to be given to BSNL. We are working on finalising the modalities around it,” an official told FE.