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Centre unveils plan to synergise operations of telecom PSUs

Centre unveils plan to synergise operations of telecom PSUs

The PSUs are hopeful of playing a lead role in implementing the government's Digital India initiatives like e-health, e-commerce and e-education services.

The central government has unveiled a plan to synergise the operations of public sector organisations under the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to better utilise the business opportunities arising out of its ambitious Rs 42,000 crore BharatNet project. The move will benefit PSUs like MTNL, BSNL, BBNL, TCIL, ITI, C-DoT and TEC which are already cooperating to connect one lakh panchayats across the country with broadband network through the ongoing first phase of BharatNet. The second phase, with an outlay of Rs 31,000 crore is meant to extend this service to 2.5 lakh panchayats by March 2019.

"The combined strengths of PSUs will enable them to tap the immense business opportunities that are arising out of Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G telecom services in near future", said Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary, Telecom.

At a function in Delhi on February 22, the PSUs signed seven MoUs to formalise its synergistic partnership. The "strategic plan" includes effective utilisation of human resources, settlement of legal issues among PSUs entities and optimal utilisation of land and buildings, among others. The PSUs have also developed a revenue sharing framework to address the payment issues arising out of joint execution of business contracts and assignments.

The PSUs are hopeful of playing a lead role in implementing the government's Digital India initiatives like e-health, e-commerce and e-education services. They also expect to promote startups in these areas and provide a fillip to entrepreneurship programmes that promote smart infrastructure. Indigenisation and import substitution by making use of the government public procurement policy and development of 5G products and services ecosystem are other emerging opportunities they wish to tap.

The decision to prepare a comprehensive plan to synergise the operations of telecom PSUs were taken in January 2016. The roadmap, prepared after two-years' deliberations however is silent on mergers and acquisitions among PSUs in the telecom space.