MTNL and BSNL merger on the cards, says Kapil Sibal

Kapil Sibal has been spotted in newspapers advertisements today urging mobile phone users to switch to state-run MTNL using MNP and reap the benefits of free roaming. The free roaming scheme was later also confirmed via tweets. Both state-owned MTNL and BSNL will offer free roaming from January 26. Now, Sibal has informed Business Standard that they are moving towards merging the state-owned operators.


It should be noted that last year even Department of Telecommunications (DOT) had felt that its time for  BSNL and MTNL to merge. MTNL offers telecom services in Mumbai and Delhi while BSNL’s services are available across the nation. "We will take it up with the empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM), which will either be in January or early February, and then take it up with the Cabinet. I hope the synergies between the companies will help the single entity," Sibal was quoted as saying by the paper.


MTNL hasn’t been in a great shape lately.  Sibal, who was present at an event launching free roaming for MTNL users, disclosed how the state-owned telco has been burdened as it had to pay for 4G spectrum at commercial bid prices at the auction held in 2010. It now plans to return the spectrum, which will help it get back around Rs 4,500 crore. He reportedly further said that, "MTNL has started declining and in this position because of this decision. I am happy government thinks so,"


He also disclosed that the government is trying to solve the issues due to spectrum usage charges (SUC) to be paid by operators. "We will clear the SUC issue before the eGoM meeting on January 27. It will be solved before the auction and the withdrawal date," said Sibal. Besides, Sibal also revealed that BSNL will soon introduce a new roaming plan across its circles - Re 1 a day, for a 90- day period.

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