It would be nice to say MTNL’s greatest asset is its customers’ goodwill. Especially since the acronym is no longer a four-letter word, no longer tweaked to My Telephone Not Live. But what might surprise you to know is that one of MTNL’s biggest assets is its real estate holdings in Mumbai — estimates value it at over Rs 20,000 crore.
No wonder, some 10 years ago, the behemoth was sitting comfortably, not willing to bestir itself until absolutely necessary. It all seems so far away now — those days when getting a telephone connection in Mumbai was the biggest hurdle any business had to overcome. Palms had to be greased for a connection, then greased again to keep the telephone ringing.
To its credit, MTNL hauled itself up after 1992 when the telecom sector was opened up to other service providers. And prospered too, with a variety of services including wireless, landline and mobile telephony, Internet services and the latest 3G service. Plus, customer service. They’ve rung out the old, rung in the new.