Aiming to add subscribers and improve its network coverage, state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd is to soon introduce Femtocell technology, under which its users will be shifted to a broadband line for connection while being indoors.
MTNL, which operates in Delhi and Mumbai, will be the first telecom company to introduce this technology in the country. It has allocated capital expenditure of Rs 800 crore in 2012-13 for increasing capacity and coverage, a senior MTNL official told Business Standard. Talks with vendors are in advanced stages.
For the current financial year, it has prepared a three-stage expansion strategy – adding 3G lines, new technology for optimum utilisation of spectrum (Femtocell) and upgrading the data network. It is also looking for new avenues to increase revenue.
It is in the process of hiring a consultant to assess the market value of its real estate assets. The company has vacant built-up space of 780,000 sq ft across 75 built-up properties in Delhi and Mumbai. It also has about 30 developable vacant land parcels in Delhi measuring 296,000 sq metres and about 20 land parcels in Mumbai, measuring 386,000 sq metres.
In a tender on its website, MTNL said it planned to evaluate potential monetisation of these vacant built up spaces and land parcels. The consultant being hired will develop a real estate master plan, with the objective of providing an optimal asset portfolio, aligned with strategic business objectives and emerging market opportunities, the company said.
The new technology, Femtocell, will allow the company to save spectrum and serve more users, while shifting the latter to a broadband line. The company has already done an experimental project with this technology and now plans to launch in both Delhi and Mumbai circles this financial year, the official added.
MTNL has been making losses for some time, struggling with payment of retirement benefits, a high wage bill and dipping revenues because of stiff competition. It has asked the department of telecommunications (DoT) to clear a voluntary retirement scheme, to be offered to 15,000-20,000 employees, a third of its staff. The proposal has been cleared by the MTNL board but awaits a nod from DoT. The losses were Rs 2,827 crore in 2010-11, with revenue of Rs 3,841 crore.