BSNL/MTNL subscribers base increased despite competition: Minister
New Delhi, Mar 17 (UNI) Communication and Information Minister Shakeel Ahmad today informed the Lok Sabha that the subscriber base of BSNL and MTNL has been increasing despite a stiff competition from several private players in the field of telephony.
Responding to queries of several members during Question Hour, the Minister said the number of subscribers of BSNL was 4.16 crore on March 31, 2004 and rose to 4.69 crore during the same period last year and further increased to 5.27 crore on January 31, 2006.
Similarly, the number of subscribers of MTNL has increased from 48,34,486 on March 31, 2004 to 55,87,703 as on January 31, 2006.
However, Mr Ahmad admitted that landline connections of both PSUs were declining at around the rate of 20 per cent a year. This is because people's priorities have changed and now cellular phones are the order of the day, the minister added.
He said his ministry had conducted study to know reasons for such disconnections and surrendering of phones. As a result, the Ministry had taken steps to improve services which include offering of value added services on landline and mobile network.
Besides, attempts are being made to improve the coverage areas of wireless in local loop and global system for mobile communication (GSM) based mobile service in addition to offering attractive package for prospective customers.
On rural telephony, the Minister said Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) had entered into an agreement with BSNL in November, 2004 for providing village public telephones (VPTs) in the remaining 66,822 unconnected eligible villages in the country.
As many as 17,182 villages have been covered under this scheme and the remaining villages will be provided with VPT by November 2007.
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