As per minister of state for communication and IT, Sanjay Dhotre, the participation of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) in spectrum auctions may create efficacy and fairness related apprehensions in the telecom industry and lead to a conflict of interest.
The minister was citing a letter of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to the solicitor general of India on the matter of allocation of spectrum to BSNL.
Further, he added that a draft cabinet note (DCN) has been prepared for the auction of the spectrum which is currently under consideration in the DoT.
Meanwhile, the minister also said that BSNL and MTNL will not be shut down and efforts are being made to revive them soon.
Additionally, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also added that BSNL and MTNL are monetising their tower assets by permitting sharing of their towers with other telecom service providers (TSPs).
Accordingly, some of their towers, apart from being used by BSNL and MTNL are also leased to other TSPs including Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel. Similarly, BSNL and MTNL are also using towers taken on rent from other telecom and infrastructure service providers.
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, the minister stated. Additionally, out of 402 mobile towers shared by MTNL, 137, 100 and 165 mobile towers have been shared with Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, respectively.
Further, as per BSNL and MTNL around Rs 1.67 billion and Rs 116.2 million, respectively, are outstanding from Reliance Jio and the telcos are making efforts to recover the dues.