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In renewal push, MTNL to more than double mobile capacity

Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd or MTNL plans to more than double its GSM and 3G coverage and capacity in Mumbai and Delhi over the next 2-3 years, the government said in a statement today.

MTNL’s mobile services, despite being affordable, have seen a steady decline in users, and by implication, in revenue and profitability, in both these cities largely due to poor network coverage.

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The state-owned company has around 1,720 base stations and nodes in each of the two cities, while most private operators have 3,500-4,000 installations.

As a result, not only is MTNL’s coverage poorer, its capacity to carry data, especially over 3G, is also much lower than those of competitors like Vodafone and Airtel. MTNL also suffers from having an older 3G technology that supports only 3.1 Mbps download speeds, while private operators support maximum speeds of 21 Mbps or in some cases, 42 Mbps.

“MTNL has planned to add 1880 Nos. of BTS/Node-Bs in Delhi and 1646 Nos. of BTSs/Node-Bs in Mumbai in the next 2-3 years,” the ministry of communications and information technology said.

In Delhi, MTNL will add 1080 3G sites and 800 2G sites, while in Mumbai, it would add 1080 3G sites and 566 2G sites. It will also increase the bandwidth of its core network to 10 Gbps in Delhi and Mumbai.

The move is the first major expansion for the state-owned company in past several years. The company has failed to get much attention from the government, particularly under UPA 2, and has seen its condition go from bad to worse.

It also faces the problem of an ageing workforce as it has not had any new recruitment in years, leading to an absence of new ideas.

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