BSNL plans to invest ₹6,000 crore in 2 years for network expansion

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on January 10, 2018

Ramping up: Anupam Shrivastava, CMD, BSNL

PSU telco will set up 40,000 base stations

Public sector telecom operator BSNL will invest ₹6,000 crore over the next two years to improve its network.

It has already initiated the process of awarding contracts to equipment vendors that include Finnish-major Nokia and Chinese company ZTE to set up the required infrastructure.

According to Anupam Shrivastava, CMD, the telco will invest towards setting up of 40,000 base transceiver stations (BTS), thereby taking the count up to 170,000. Its BTS count – across 2G, 3G and 4G networks – currently stand at 130,000.

BTS refers to the equipment that facilitates wireless communication between a equipment and the network.

“BTS will be coming up with focus on Tier-II, Tier-III and rural areas and it will be a mix of 2G, 3G and 4G sites. We will also be replacing some older equipment,” he told BusinessLine on the sidelines of the launch of ‘Speedpay’, its co-branded e-wallet services with Punjab National Bank (PNB).

The public sector telco will, however, not be setting up new towers but would look at taking these on rent from private operators. BSNL’s own tower count currently stands at 75,000.

Awarding contracts

According to Shrivastava, contracts are already being handed out to vendors that include Nokia and ZTE. The two contracts will set up 20,000 BTS each across the four zones – north, east, west and south.

Nokia emerged the L1 bidder and will be setting up BTS in the south and western parts of the country. ZTE, the L2 bidder, will take care of north and east regions. Ericsson is the L3 bidder.

“We have already issued advance purchase orders to Nokia. In another 10 days, similar purchase orders will be given out to ZTE,” he said.

Incidentally, BSNL is expecting to be Ebidta positive (operating profit) for the third straight year in FY17. Revenue from operations is expected to see a marginal one per cent (apprx) jump to ₹28,700 crore in FY17 against ₹28,400 crore in FY16.

After suffering losses to the tune of ₹691 crore in FY-14, the telco reported operating profits for FY15 and FY16 stood at ₹672 crore and 3,855 crore, respectively.

“Projections show that we will be Ebidta positive in FY17 too, while our revenue from operations will also improve. Revenues have risen at a time when major private operators are witnessing a dip ,” he added.

Incidentally, Shrivastava was expecting the company to be back in black — at a net profit level — by FY19. A revival plan, he said, has been worked out, but did not share the details.

Published on September 08, 2017

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