giving priority to improve functioning of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).
"The condition of BSNL is not very healthy at all. It is priority area of government to improve the functioning of BSNL. There is need for a lot of improvement," the minister said.
He said the government was concerned about the coverage and quality of telecommunication services in left wing extremism affected states.
A proposal to install mobile towers at 1,836 locations in those states with funding support from universal service obligation fund (USOF) was approved, he added.
Regarding a query about health hazards from radiation linked to mobile towers and phones, Ravi Shankar Prasad said various studies were conducted but they did not show any reason to worry.
BSNL and MTNL are also working to improve their services and coverage in the country.
The Minister had earlier said that the telcos are adding about 28,300 mobile sites for this purpose. BSNL and MTNL are also focusing on improving 2G and 3G data coverage. "To improve coverage and data speed, BSNL is augmenting its network by adding IP-based 10,502 new Node Bs (3G antenna) and 14,263 base transceiver stations (generally for 2G) in the network as part of phase 7 expansion plan," he told Lok Sabha.
MTNL, which recently turned profitable, is set to install 3,526 mobile sites for improving 2G and 3G coverage in Delhi and Mumbai. "MTNL is augmenting network by adding 1,080 Node-Bs and 800 BTSs in Delhi and 1,080 Node-Bs and 566 BTSs in Mumbai," Prasad adds. "BSNL and MTNL are also upgrading their existing high speed downlink packet access 3G network supporting download speed of 3.6Mbps and upload speed of 384kbps to support high speed packet access with download speed of 21.1Mbps and upload speed of 5.76Mbps per sector in each node-B," he further says.
BSNL and MTNL have lagged behind the private telecom players in terms of wireless broadband subscribers. According to the latest TRAI figures, private telcos held 89.56 percent of the wireless subscriber market share while BSNL and MTNL held just 10.44 percent market share.