MTNL,BSNL demand full mobility for CDMA

State-owned MTNL and BSNL have sought full mobility licences for their CDMA-based mobile services. The PSUs have pointed out that their competitors in the private sector have migrated to Universal Access Service Licences (which allows them to offer any type of telecom services) while the government is yet to allow them to do so. The licensing restriction had adversely affected the business prospects of their CDMA-based mobile services, the PSUs said.

“This (licensing restriction) has resulted in an anomaly that the CDMA services of the competitors are now full mobile services while the same services of the PSUs are limited mobile service. A subscriber of Delhi having Garuda (CDMA-mobile service of MTNL) service cannot use it in neighbouring Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida and Gurgaon.

This serious limitation prevents him from opting for this service while the same CDMA service of Tata or Reliance works in all such areas, along with operation throughout the country. This example clearly shows that Garuda service of MTNL and Tarang service of BSNL are unable to compete with the private players due to outdated licensing restrictions,” MTNL said in a detailed communication to telecom regulator Trai.

The PSU has also said that ‘limited mobile service has got no meaning in today’s telecom scenario and needs to be replaced with full mobility in the interest of consumers’. BSNL has almost exhausted its capacity in the GSM space and has now shifted focus on CDMA services. Last week, BSNL launched some pre-paid tariff plans on its CDMA segment similar to the plans offered to its GSM subscribers. BSNL, which currently has 3.5-million CDMA customers as against over 27 million in the GSM space, is also finalising plans to issue a fresh tender for additional CDMA lines.

The PSUs have also justified their demand for full mobility (for their CDMA services) on the grounds that it was only after the PSUs launched GSM services that the private players were forced to bring down tariffs. “Similarly, CDMA services offered by the two PSUs prevented private CDMA players from offering high tariffs.

Thus the two PSUs have played the important role of providing effective competition and preventing the formation of cartels against the interests of the common consumer,” said the communication to Trai.