BSNL to start telecom services in Delhi and Mumbai from March 1

BSNL has been authorised to cover
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) will start providing landline services in the capital city and Mumbai from March 1.

The state-owned company was earlier supposed to start these services on behalf of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) from January 1, 2021, but was unable to do so due to some internal issues between the two companies.

“Now, BSNL has agreed to go ahead with these services, There were technology-related issues between the two companies and those were causing delays,” an official said without divulging further details.

In December, the Department of Telecom granted BSNL licence for 20 years effective from February 29, 2020, to provide mobile, fixed-line, satellite and other communication services across India, including Delhi and Mumbai.

BSNL has been authorised to cover "local areas served by Delhi, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Noida and Gurgaon telephone exchanges" and also "local areas served by Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Kalyan Telephone exchanges".

Currently, MTNL provides telecom services in Delhi and Mumbai and BSNL currently serves the rest of the country.

The government approved a long-pending plan of merging the two loss-making telecom companies in October 2019.

On October 24, 2019, the Union Cabinet approved an Rs 68,751-crore revival package for loss-making BSNL and MTNL, including 4G spectrum allocation and voluntary retirement scheme, as well as their merger.

The Cabinet also approved merger of the two telecom companies and indicated that till the merger process is complete MTNL will operate as a subsidiary of BSNL.

The package included raising of Rs 15,000 crore sovereign bonds to meet the immediate capital requirement of both the companies, 4G spectrum allocation worth Rs 20,140 crore, Rs 29,937 crore for Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) covering 50 per cent of their employees, and Rs 3,674 crore for goods and services tax that will be levied on allocation of radiowaves.

According to the official figures, over 92,000 employees of both the companies had availed of the VRS package -- over 78,000 employees of BSNL and over 14000 employees of MTNL.

Earlier, BSNL's workforce stood at 150,000 and that of MTNL at 22,000.

Both BSNL and MTNL have been synchronising their operations since 2012.

MTNL started providing basic telecom service in 1986 in Delhi and Mumbai.The government granted MTNL licence to provide mobile services in October 1997.

MTNL has 3.37 million mobile and 3 million landline customers while BSNL mobile subscriber base stood at 118.88 million and landline customer base was 7.74 million at the end of October 2020, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's latest subscription data.

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