BSNL seeks to launch 4G services by March 1

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on January 14, 2020 Published on January 14, 2020

BSNL is also preparing to pay employee wages for December next week

State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is readying to launch 4G services by March 1, for which it has already sought spectrum from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

“BSNL has written to DoT asking the licensor to release spectrum, as agreed by the Government earlier, to start 4G services by March 1. A technology-driven company, launching of 4G services is an important milestone in its revival plan, which is necessary to keep abreast with competition,” a source close to the development told BusinessLine.

Further, the debt-laden company is getting ready to pay employee wages for December next week, even as it has started clearing vendor and labour payments from a Rs 3,000-crore loan.

Both Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) and BSNL do not have 4G spectrum, though BSNL is providing 4G services using high-end Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) in certain circles. The service is now being provided using 3G spectrum, but the company needs 4G spectrum to provide both 3G and 4G services simultaneously in an area covered by a single BTS.

The miniratna company had first sought 4G spectrum in 2017, but is yet to be awarded.

In October 2019, the Government while approving the merger of the two ailing telecom companies--MTNL and BSNL—also said it would allocate the much-awaited 4G spectrum allocation to the two companies.

Rs 3,000-crore loan

BSNL, which received an approval from DoT to borrow funds, also raised a Rs 3,000-crore loan from a large national bank.

The company has already begun repaying vendors and contract labourers using the loan amount, while a part of which would be also used to pay employee wages. BSNL is yet to pay December salary, which as per its policy should have been credited on the last working day of the month.

Deloitee to advise on continuity of operations

BSNL has also roped in Deloitte to advise the debt-laden firm on “continuity of operations” after it cuts down the workforce through a Voluntary Retirement Scheme. Further, Deloitte would also advise the firm on future business prospects and technology among others, sources added.

A little over 78,300 BSNL employees of the total 83,000 employees had opted for the separation scheme, while at MTNL, 14,383 of the 16,370 eligible have applied.

Published on January 14, 2020

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