BSNL can launch 4G with a ₹1,000-cr investment: Association

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on March 23, 2021

Sanchar Nigam Executives’ Association has alleged that government actions delayed providing 2G, 3G and 4G services to BSNL customers

Sanchar Nigam Executives’ Association has sought PM’s intervention to monetise its land assets and help clear its debts

State-owned telecom firm Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) can launch 4G services, a key requirement for its revival, with an investment of about ₹1,000 crore against the estimated ₹9,000 crore it would require as per the new tender.

This would be possible through upgrading its existing 49,300 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) to support 4G services. Further, the services can be rolled out in two-three months from the date of spectrum allocation, much shorter than the two-three years expected under the new tender, Sanchar Nigam Executives’ Association (SNEA), an officers’ Association of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), said in a letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The letter, which sought the Prime Minister’s intervention for a faster roll-out of 4G services, also said that BSNL had readied the network to launch 4G services in 2018 with an investment of ₹5,000 crore. The network with BTSs were also set up during this time for 4G services, it said, adding, another ₹1,000-crore investment is all that is required to roll out the services with very good coverage.

Under the new tender, it may take another two-three years to roll out the services, provided the ‘Proof of Concept’ is a “success”, and will cost an estimated ₹9,000 crore which BSNL cannot afford. Further, a delay of another two-three years to launch the services will be detrimental to its revival plan.

“The new tender for 4G equipment may be dealt separately without clubbing with the upgradation. As and when the indigenous core is ready, the equipment can be shifted to it, fully complying with the Government policy,” it said.

ALSO READ: BSNL asks eligible bidders to dial up for 4G services rollout

Land monetisation

SNEA has also sought the Prime Minister’s intervention for immediate monetisation of its land assets and clearing all the debts. BSNL has to repay more than ₹6,000 crore of bank loans in the next financial year (FY2021-22), which is equivalent to almost one-third of the company’s revenue.

If BSNL’s land monetisation does not happen by next year, then its revival would also be difficult, SNEA said.

BSNL is using a major portion of the revenue to clear the loans, at a time when the company does not have funds to meet operational expenditure. BSNL’s expansion plan may not take off until the debts are cleared and its financial condition is improved.

SNEA has also requested the Prime Minister to direct authorities to expedite the monetisation of land assets and clear all the liabilities so that entire BSNL revenue can be utilised for operations and development purposes. This issue should be addressed by the Government as “topmost priority”, it added.

Published on March 23, 2021

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