Indian govt confirms that BSNL and MTNL will not close

Published: 6 February 2020 - 12:07 p.m.

India’s Telecoms Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has confirmed that the Indian government has no plans to shut down state owned telcos BSNL and MTNL.

Reporters from the Financial Express quoted Prasad as saying that both companies remained “strategic assets” of the Indian government.

“We consider BSNL and MTNL as strategic assets, as they have come to the aid of the people during natural calamities. There were problems in these companies, but we will revive them soon.

“Don’t be under this impression that BSNL and MTNL will be shut down. We have infused a revival package in them and I assure you that these companies will not be shut down,” he said.

“Appropriate asset monetisation are recovering from other companies are part of the revival package. We will make optimal use of the land and other assets of BSNL and MTNL while reviving them,” he said.

India remains one of the most competitive markets in the world for telecoms operators to turn a profit. Both BSNL and MTNL have agreed to share access to their telecoms towers infrastructure, in an attempt to raise finances, according to Prasad.

“Out of 13,146 mobile towers shared by BSNL, 8,363, 2,779 and 1,782 mobile towers have been shared with Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea respectively.

Late last year, the Indian government announced that it planned to spend in the region of $6 billion in an attempt to resurrect the fortunes of BSNL and MTNL. BSNL also announced that it planned to make around 80,000 redundancies in 2020, as part of its cost cutting initiative.

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