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State run telco MTNL has made its first profit in 17 quarters – posting Rs 428.03 crore profit for the quarter ended December 31, 2013, on account of writing off BWA spectrum payment worth Rs 1,404.9 crore. This follows the government’s decision to refund the one-time upfront charges of BWA spectrum due to the surrender of BWA spectrum by MTNL.

Without this, the telco would’ve reported a loss of Rs 968.85 crore for the quarter, as against Rs 947.1 crore loss in the previous quarter and Rs 1,182.2 crore loss in the same quarter last year.

The telco says the amortized BWA spectrum amount of Rs 1,556 crore (up to September 30, 2013) has been reversed, of which Rs 1,404.9 crore (up to March 31, 2013) has been shown as exceptional items while the balance amount of Rs 1,511.32 crore (April 1, 2013-September 30, 2013) has been reversed and adjusted in the amortization schedule.

The total operational revenue for MTNL was at Rs 853.4 crore for the quarter, which was marginally up from Rs 813.5 crore in the previous quarter and Rs 835.02 crore in the same quarter last year.

Basic Services vs Cellular Services

Basic (Fixed line) services reported revenues of Rs 667.03 crore for the quarter, up from Rs 640.8 crore in the previous quarter but marginally down from Rs 668.9 crore in the same quarter last year. Basic (Fixed line) services still accounts for a majority of MTNL’s revenues, although the segment’s contribution has declined marginally to 77.78% of telco’s Rs 857.56 crore revenue (includes inter-segment revenue, hence higher than net revenue reported earlier), from 78.8% in the previous quarter.

The segment reported profit of Rs 633.5 crore for the quarter, as against Rs 499.6 crore loss in the previous quarter and Rs 612.04 crore loss in the same quarter last year.

On the other hand, cellular services generated revenues of Rs 190.53 crore for the quarter, up from Rs 178.72 crore in the previous quarter and Rs 172.99 crore in the same quarter last year. Cellular services represented 22.22% of MTNL’s revenues for the quarter, marginally up from 22% in the previous quarter.

MTNL developments during the quarter

While MTNL hasn’t shared any operational information for the quarter, the telco had received approval from the Union Cabinet to surrender its Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum in both operational circles (Delhi & Mumbai) last month. As part of this surrender, MTNL was expected to receive a refund of 4,533.97 crore over a period of time as part of a revival package.

Information & Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari had mentioned that this refund will help MTNL to meet basic financial commitments such as operation and maintenance of their respective telecom networks.

Later in the month, MTNL had also stated plans to launch public WiFi hotspots in Mumbai and Delhi for its customers. The telco is apparently tying up with malls, food courts and coffee shops to provide unlimited WiFi service at speeds of 8Mbps to its customers. It has partnered with C-bot for this initiative.

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