This refers to “BSNL, MTNL to merge, to get Rs 70,000 crore in deal” (October 25). First and foremost, the government must state whether the aim of the merger is to make the entity profitable or is it to extend the telecom services to every nook and corner of the country — even inaccessible and non-profitable locations. If the answer to the question is to make the organisation profit-oriented, the following steps should also be considered. First, the government should permit the shut-down of around 13,000 telephone exchanges in rural areas that are incurring a loss of Rs 3 lakh on an average per month. Else, 100 per cent compensation must be allowed. Second, the BSNL management must function independently without any hindrance. Third, allow BSNL to participate in the auction of spectrum, adhering to all the terms and conditions, such as repayment holidays, applicable to private operators. Also allow the company to choose the circles that are profitable.
If the government's aim is to have a strong arm to protect telecom customers from exploitation, monopoly and pressure tactics from private operators and to fulfill the dream of digital India, then it should not be so keen on profitability. Some balance, without burdening tax payers, is welcome.
Venu K P, via email
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