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MTNL in talks with Tata Tele, Aircel for 3G roaming deals

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State-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) is understood to have finalised two private companies, and Aircel, for 3G roaming agreements in the Delhi and Mumbai circles.

The agreement is likely to bring it an additional annual Rs 250-300 crore. The new stream would help in improving its financial situation; it has been losing money, due to low rates and severe competition. In 2010-11, its net loss was Rs 2,826 crore, up 8.3 per cent from Rs 2,611 crore in 2009-10.

The company had a meeting with the department of telecommunications on 3G roaming agreements recently, where it is learnt the final stage of the deal has been approved.

When asked, chairman and managing director said, “We are in discussions with both of them (Tata Teleservices and Aircel). We will shortly announce the final deal.”

MTNL and its sister concern, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, were awarded a year ahead of the auction for private companies, which was last year. In June last year, MTNL had invited bids from private service providers for this, as it had to cancel the earlier tender due to some regulatory issues.

MTNL had received bids from and Tata Teleservices, which had failed to bag the 3G spectrum in Delhi and Mumbai circles in the auction held last year. Aircel had won 3G spectrum in 13 circles and Tata Teleservices in nine.

Bharti Airtel, and Reliance Communications were the only operators which won 3G spectrum in Delhi and Mumbai, considered premium markets for telecom service providers.

Under the rules, the companies are allowed to enter into roaming agreements where they have not got 3G spectrum.

Delhi and Mumbai were the most expensive circles for 3G, with the bid for Delhi costing Rs 3,317 crore and Mumbai Rs 3,247 crore against the reserve price of Rs 320 crore each for both metros. Similarly for broadband wireless spectrum, Delhi and Mumbai saw the highest bids at Rs 2,241 crore and 2,293 crore, respectively.

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