Telecommunication minister Mr Dayanidhi Maran said on Thursday that there is no possibility of merging BSNL and MTNL into one entity in the near future. He said that both the PSUs are doing well and have been asked to increase their subscriber base.  Mr Maran was speaking to reporters on the occasion of MTNL and BSNL handing over their final instalment dividends to the government. Mr Maran said that both the PSUs are doing well independently and there is no possibility of merging them in the near future.Mr Maran also denied the possibility of either MTNL or BSNL starting their services in each other’s territory. “The conditions of the contract are such that neither can enter the other’s market,” said Mr Maran.  To a question whether the time for compliance with Press Note 5 regarding the conditions for foreign direct investment in the telecom sector by telecom companies would be extended again, Mr Maran said that he believes that the matter would be resolved.

“It is unfair that the matter has been delayed for so many months but then there were so many hurdles,” he said. On his reported difference with other ministries on this issue, Mr Maran said that national security is supreme and the whole government acts together as a team. But even then Mr Maran could not stop himself from expressing dissatisfaction over the way other ministries particularly defence has complicated the matter. “We should also not over react in the name of national security,” said Mr Maran.

The Cabinet had last month set December 31 as the deadline for resolution of inter-ministerial differences and addressing concerns, particularly the security aspect. On the verification drive, Mr Maran said that telecom companies are obliged to carry out the drive and said that the telecommunication depar-tment will soon come out with advertisements to educate people about getting themselves registered. On the proposed vacation of spectrum of 45 MHz from the defence authorities, Mr Maran said the DoT was in the process of building a fibre based backbone for the defence enabling them to release the frequency.

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