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Free national roaming on BSNL from June 15: Prasad

Free national roaming on BSNL from June 15: Prasad
 State-owned telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will launch its much-awaited free national roaming service on June 15. However, <g data-gr-id="39">decision</g> on spectrum-sharing and trading policy will be put before the Cabinet by the month-end.

Highlighting the achievements of his ministry in last one year, Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “I know most media persons present here are keen to ask questions on the spectrum issue. I would like to reveal that guidelines on spectrum-sharing and trading would be finalised by June-end. We will then take it to the Cabinet for approval.”

He added: “I am happy to announce that BSNL’s free national roaming will be effective from June 15 and full mobile portability will be given from July. Ever since the NDA government has come to power, we are determined to provide <g data-gr-id="43">free</g> roaming facility to BSNL users,” he added.

The announcement comes ahead of full mobile number portability (MNP), which will be effective from July. BSNL had a mobile subscriber base of 7.72 <g data-gr-id="41">crore</g> till March-end.

Claiming that BSNL registered a profit of Rs 10,000 crore in 2004 during the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) regime, the Minister said: “I was shocked to know, while taking charge in 2014, that the BSNL has showed a loss of Rs 7,500 crore. How it happened is a matter of debate. The Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) was running in profit till 2008, but when I took charge it showed losses.”

Taking a firm stand on middlemen and lobbyists, the Minister said: “Before I took charge over the ministry, it was always in <g data-gr-id="40">news</g> for all wrong reasons. I would like to tell everyone that there is no place of any middleman and lobbyist in my ministry. Good governance became a casualty as far as these PSUs are concerned.”

Prasad also spoke on the controversial issue of net neutrality. “A report has been prepared by a telecom department panel and it was sent to the telecom regulator. The telecom regulator will soon make the content of the report public. The Cabinet will take the final call,” he said.

Net neutrality guarantees free and non-discriminatory access to the web. Last month, Prasad had announced in the Rajya Sabha that the government was in favour of maintaining the core principles of net neutrality and internet for all.

Expressing concern over frequent “call drop” cases, he said: “Our government is exploring the 
possibility of bringing in disincentives for telecom operators to counter the issue. Telecom operators need to ensure that call drops are minimised. I have directed officials in the department to work on disincentive architecture.”

On post offices, offering banking services, Prasad said he expected the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) approval for the payment of bank licence to the postal department by July or August. “Also, Wi-Fi service will be there at all tourist places, including the Taj Mahal, by the year-end,” he said.
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