State-owned BSNL will offer its subscribers free incoming calls on roaming from June 15, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said today, even as it looks to compete more aggressively with private telecom operators.
"BSNL will start offering free national roaming from June 15. It's already on the recovery path," Prasad said at a press meet marking one year of the Modi government.
The announcement comes ahead of full mobile number portability (MNP), which will be effective July this year. BSNL has a mobile subscriber base of 7.72 crore at the end of March.
"Although there could be slight reduction in revenue on account of free incoming calls during roaming, we expect to gain first mover advantage and anticipate offsetting this amount by arresting churnout/porting out and acquiring new customers," BSNL CMD Anupam Shrivastava said at the press meet.
However, free incoming calls will be offered for one year. The Minister added that in 2004, BSNL made profits of Rs 10,000 crore, and its loss stood at Rs 7,500 crore in 2014 when the Modi government took over.
MTNL, he said, was in profit zone till 2008, but is now facing losses. MTNL offers services in Delhi and Mumbai while BSNL takes care of the rest of the country. To a specific query on where the buck stops, Prasad said those at Sanchar Bhawan should take the blame for the current state of affairs.
He was quick to add that the government is taking all possible steps to revive these two state-owned entities. The efforts are bearing fruit, he said, adding BSNLs revenue went up 2.1 per cent in 2014-15 and active subscribers rose 47 lakhs, thus reversing the negative trend of previous years.
Under phase VII of BSNL, 15,000 new base tower stations were commissioned in one year, which have reduced call drops and eased congestion.
"MTNL added 2.11 lakh subscribers in 2014-15, arresting the negative trend of previous years, and will add 1,680 tower sites in Delhi and Mumbai each," he said. Asked about the merger of the two, the minister said, "Let them go on the revival path. We will see."