The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the third revival package for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) with a total outlay of ₹89,047.82 crore that includes allotment of 4G/5G spectrum through equity infusion.

The authorised capital of BSNL will be increased from ₹1,50,000 crore to ₹2,10,000 crore, a government statement said, adding that with this revival package, BSNL will emerge as a “stable telecom service provider” focused on providing connectivity to the remotest parts.

Debt reduction

The first revival package for BSNL/ MTNL was approved in 2019 which amounted to ₹69,000 crore. Again, in 2022, the Centre approved a package totalling ₹1.64-lakh crore, providing financial support for capex, viability gap funding for rural landlines, financial support for de-stressing the balance sheet and settlement of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues and merger of BBNL with BSNL.

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“As a result of these two packages, BSNL started earning operating profits since FY22. Total debt of BSNL has also reduced from ₹32,944 crore to ₹22,289 crore,” the statement added.

Of the total budget allotment of ₹89,047 crore, ₹46,338.60 crore has been earmarked for the allotment of 10MHz spectrum in the 700 MHz band, paired in 22 licensed service areas (LSAs); ₹26,184.20 crore for allotment of 70MHz spectrum in 3300 MHz band in 22 LSAs; ₹6,564.93 crore for allotment of 800 MHz of 26GHz in 21 LSAs, and 650 MHz in one LSA; and ₹9,428.20 crore for allotment of 20MHz in six LSAs and 10MHz in 2 LSAs in the 2500MHz.

With this, BSNL will be able to provide pan-India 4G and 5G services, provide 4G coverage in rural and uncovered villages under various connectivity projects, fixed wireless access (FWA) services for high-speed Internet, and services/ spectrum for captive non-public network (CNPN).

Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of Communications and IT, said BSNL was allocated ₹53,000 crore capital this year to construct new towers, enhance its 2G/3G, 4G and 5G networks pan India. Recently, BSNL also issued advanced purchase orders worth over ₹19,000 crore to a consortium led by TCS and C-DOT for the deployment of 4G network.

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“We are in the process of installing around 3,000 towers for 4G and 5G... you will see rollouts happening in at least 100 places every day. There will be 38 lakh connections.. so around one lakh every day. There are around 200 sites installed till now and we are doing tests in places like Amritsar, Pathankot and Chandigarh,” Vaishnaw added.