'Ailing' MTNL chalks out Rs 4,200-crore revival plan

Published On: 09, Dec 2017 | Source: Hindustantimes

The government-owned telecom operator MTNL has prepared an ambitious Rs 4,200-crore transformation plan even as it faces a financial crisis.

MTNL, with presence only in Mumbai and Delhi, wants to start new 4G network in the two cities while expanding its 3G base. The ailing company, which posted Rs 2,000 crore loss in 2016-17, has admitted that it has obsolete fixed line technology that was inducted 25 years ago and its mobile network has quality issues.

Heavily subsidised by the government, the telecom company chalked out a revival plan when the NDA government was actively considering disinvestment in loss-making central public sector undertakings.

Although NITI Aayog had clarified last year that there’s no plan to close or divest MTNL for the time being, sources added that PMO might consider a strategic sale. The MTNL has prepared a Rs 2,100 crore plan to improve its mobile business and another Rs 2,140 crore plan for wireline network. It wants to install 2,000 3G Node-Bs each in Delhi and Mumbai and 1,000 eNode Bs for 4G, apart from modernising its billing and IT infrastructure.

Experts maintained that the company needs to upgrade its infrastructure to compete with private players. “If they want to revive, they must change. It is mandatory to be technologically at par with others,” said Rishi Tejpal, principal research analyst with Gartner.

While many Opposition MPs in the finance panel—led by Congress’ Veerappa Moily—is ideologically opposed to divestment in government’s telecom arm, they took note of MTNL’s highly unproductive workforce.

The MTNL said it has 7,186 Grade D and 15,635 Grade C employees and 899 and 3,026 employees in Grade A and B respectively.

“The average age of these employees is more than 50 years and they are drawing salary in the upper bracket in their scale and hence salary cost is also very high,” the note added.