It is reported that Bharti Airtel will take over the mobile section of the Tata Teleservices. The later is under loss and has gone down, especially after the Reliance Jio entered the market with its aggressive offers. The big shark eating the smaller one!
The DOT and the central government have always been moving to share the infrastructure of BSNL for the benefit of the private telcos. Years back, DOT gave permission to private telecom companies to construct/install their towers on the BSNL buildings. It was defeated by the workers by blocking the private telecoms from entering the premises and strong protest from the unions.
Next, there was move to unbundle the valuable copper cable all over India and share it with the private operators. A complete strike was organised and the DOT was compelled to give a written assurance that there will be no unbundling and no disinvestment.
Now the government has decided to form the Tower company, which will cripple BSNL and its revenue. Further, once the company is formed, it will be independent and will take decisions which will be completely in the interest of the private companies. It will be just like the priority given to private airlines in the routes ignoring Air India, the PSU. BSNL will get the least benefit from the new Tower company, which will be at the behest of the private companies as per the direction of the government.
The story of the Arab and the Camel, where the former was completely kicked out of the tent by the latter, will be the result. The united force of the workers saved our copper cables and in the same way we should be able to save our towers.
The decision of all the unions/associations to meet on 15th and discuss the issue and plan the course of action is timely. The government move to form the Tower Company should defeated at the initial stage itself.
The process for the next round of auction of Spectrum (air-waves) is expected shortly. TRAI has given indication in this direction. Spectrum in almost all category is available. Last time, the government got Rs. 65,789 crore in the auction.
The government should concede the demand of the BSNL and the Unions for allotment of spectrum free, considering that BSNL is a 100% government company and is short of funds at present. It is serving the people in all parts of the country, including lakhs of remote villages, where the private companies are shy of providing service due to high costs and losses.
The New Telecom Policy expected to be finalised by the end of this year may change the Licence system for telecom services in the country. This was stated by Miss Aruna Sunderarajan, Secretary DOT. Earlier, the licences were granted on bid for each circles separately. This was the requirement of the private companies since they did not have services in all the circles. But BSNL was compelled to purchase spectrum in all circles at the maximum bid rate in each circle, whether required or not. While private companies paid only Rs. 3000 – 6000 crores for selected circles, BSNL was compelled to pay an amount of Rs. 18,500 crore.
Now the major telcos are providing service in most of the circles. If they have to bid by circle to circle and pay for all circles, it will be a good amount as paid by BSNL earlier. Hence it is to reduce that burden on the private companies that the All India licence is being thought of giving a new slogan ‘One India, One Licence’.
It is exposed that the policy decisions are taken by the government in the telecom sector always giving priority to the private companies. Already the government is in the processing of reducing the ADC, USOF etc. charges to be paid by the private companies as demanded by the them.
The total telecom subscribers in India has crossed 120 crore in May 2017 according to TRAI. From 1,19.89 crores in April, it increased to 120.49 in May 2017.
There was an increase of 66.2 lakh connections in Mobile. Loss of 1.4 lakh in landline subscribers.
Total wireless subscribers increased by 0.53 per cent to 1,180.82 million at the end of May from 1,174.60 million at the end of April.
BSNL increased 13.5 lakhs connection in the period. (output from TRAI).
India’s population is above 130 crores., It will seem that almost everybody has got a phone. It is not so. Many people are having two or more phones. There are still many crores of people who do not have a phone.
Communications Minister Manoj Sinha had stated that the government is preparing a New Telecom Policy which will will be discussed with all stake holders. The report in the press is given below. Every time a New Telecom Policy has been announced, it has been for the benefit of the private companies. The first NTP was to allow the private companies to enter the telecom sector. Every NTP afterwards has been in favour of the private corporates. it is certain that this will also be in the same route.
“New Delhi: A national telecom policy is currently under formulation and will be made public “soon” for stakeholder consultation, telecom minister Manoj Sinha has said.
The upcoming policy will look at areas like technology innovation and security as well as plug “loopholes”, the minister promised but did not elaborate on the specifics.
“We are framing national telecom policy…we have done a lot of work on this. Once it is formulated, we will put in on the website for comments of general public, academia, industry and then we will go to the Parliament,” the minister told PTI in an interview.
He said that at a broad level, the policy will be driven by technology innovations, among other aspects. “There are many things which change with time…we will take all that into consideration,” he said, adding it will also address “loopholes”. He was responding to a question on gaps that the new policy will seek to address over the National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2012.
Asked about the time frame for finalising the new policy, Sinha said he expected it “soon”. “I am hopeful that it will come soon. First, we will initiate a consultation…maybe the implementation will take some time but we will soon put in on the website so we can seek people’s opinion,” he pointed out.
Sinha vowed that reforms, especially consumer-centric ones, will continue in the telecom sector and hinted that some announcements were in the offing. “Reforms will continue…Yes, it will move, and move swiftly…you will soon see some things…In the coming days, there will be some news regarding reforms, and it will be consumer-centric,” he said but declined to divulge details.
The telecom ministry has issued technology-neutral telecom licences under the NTP 2012 which was de-linked from spectrum. Other reforms that have been undertaken include finalisation of spectrum trading and sharing rules, full mobile number portability, increasing spectrum supply for the industry, Right of Way norms and electronic know-your-customer (KYC). However, it is yet to meet certain targets like 2-megabits-per-second broadband speed for consumers and formation of the National Mobile Property Registry.”
I am giving below a press report in which it is stated that DOT has asked MTNL to reduce the retirement age from 60 to 58, in order to reduce the staff and to reduce the expenditure on VRS. The Modi government, it seems, is determined to finish the MTNL and put its employees on the road. If the experiment is successful, the next target will be BSNL. In this connection it is to be mentioned that the government has no moral right to reduce the retirement age, since the employees have been planning their retirement life with the preparation to retire at 60 years and any pre-retirement will put them in to much difficulties and even may destroy their future life. Strong protest should rise against this arbitrary decision.
“Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd’s plan to become leaner is unlikely to fructify any time soon as the department of telecommunications has told the state-owned telecom services provider to first bring down the retirement age for its employees to 58 from 60 before seeking any support to fund a planned voluntary retirement scheme, according to an official.
According to the official, the company had sought the department’s support to initiate a VRS for its employees to bring down its staff costs—currently almost neck-to-neck with its revenues. Reduction in the retirement age will automatically bring down the number of people eligible for VRS and hence save the government some cash.
Years of losses, abetted by a lethargic and huge manpower and slow decision-making, have pulled down the MTNL’s networth into negative. Its revenues have little chance of recovering given that the market has matured and at the same time remains competitive. The company’s last annual profit was in 2008-09. Its net loss in March quarter was Rs. 634.78 crores – the lowest among the losses in the four quarters of 2016-17.
MTNL had a staff strength of 28,877 as on December 31, 2016. Of this, 4,027 were executives and 24,850 were non-executives.
At the end of last calendar year, the company had a total of 7.10 million subscribers. Of this, 3.63 million were mobile subscribers while 3.48 million were landline connections.”
The increase of the telecom tax to 18% through GST is certainly going to increase the telecom tariff, which will adversely affect the customers. On the one side the government wants to support the telecom services and on the other hand the tax is increased. Have the government a clear telecom policy?
]Inter Ministerial Group to study the crisis of private telecom companies.
The government has setup an Inter Ministerial Group (IMG) to study the financial crisis of the private telecom companies. The first meeting of this IMG begins on 12th June, 2017. As a precursor to this meeting, the DoT officers are holding a series of meetings with Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and TATA Tele-Services. When the corporates earn hefty profit, they do not think about the country and the people. But, when the corporates land in crisis, the country and it’s government start worrying about them. Among all the telecom companies today, BSNL is having the least debt burden. Below is the list of loans taken by various private telecom companies.
Reliance Communications Tata Tele-Services Bharati Airtel
₹44,000 cr. ₹30,000 cr. $14.09 billion
Aircel Idea Cellular Vodafone India
₹23,000 cr. ₹50,072 cr. €8.7 billion (Courtesy: BSNLEU website)
Despite clear direction from the TRAI to stop the summer special offers extended for more than 90 days to customers, Reliance Jio has given advertisements continuing the offer for more than 15 days.
Probably, Reliance Jio will be thinking that Modi government will not take any action against it, since it was Prime Minister Modi’s photo that they put in their full page advertisements earlier.
TRAI and DOT should take serious action against the violation of rules by Reliance Jio, which has resulted in great loss to the government, in terms of licence fee to the extent of 30% as reported bt DOT to the Minister.