The major hurdle for the state-led telecom operator, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has been its lack of 4G sites all throughout the country. The government-led telecom operator has been lagging behind the private telcos whilst dragging its financially burdened balance sheet in the industry, and the major reason for its troubles has been the sparse 4G network. But, slowly things are about to change as the revival plan for MTNL and BSNL has been set in motion. With the help from the government, and new VRS schemes and other attempts, BSNL will get back on its track and most importantly will start deploying 4G network throughout the country. As per a PTI report, a top BSNL official remarked that the telecom operator has planned to install 60,000 4G mobile sites throughout the country with an estimated cost of up to Rs 72,000 crore. When this goes through, BSNL will have a massive 4G presence which it has been missing since long.
BSNL to Deploy 4G Sites Across Country
It is worth noting that BSNL has already deployed 10,000 4G mobile sites across many states including Kerala, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. BSNL now also plans to activate all of these sites in one and a half month. To recall, before the telco had received the revival package from the government, BSNL was slowly working on converting its 3G spectrum for usage on the 4G network by refarming it. The telco had deployed around 7,500 mobile sites and was slowly extending the number of these sites by phasing out the 3G network and introducing 4G mobile sites in these regions. BSNL Chairman and Managing Director, PK Purwar said that in the first phase, BSNL would roll out 60,000 mobile sites for 4G services across India in the next 12 to 15 months. He also noted that these sites would be set up in cities where there are a lot of 4G phone users, and the customer base of BSNL is also appreciable.
MTNL and BSNL to Undergo Merger
It is also crucial to note that the government, on Wednesday, approved the revival package for the two government-led ailing telecom companies, BSNL and MTNL. Both the companies will undergo a merger, and they will raise Rs 15,000 crore in sovereign bonds. This capital raise would help the two companies in meeting their immediate capital requirements. But, this is not the only thing that the two companies would be getting as part of their revival plan. The telco would also get 4G spectrum which would be administratively allocated and would be worth Rs 20,140 crore, along with a VRS package which would amount to Rs 29,937 crore with Rs 3,674 crore for goods and services tax that will be levied on the allocation of radio waves. Telecom Secretary, Anshu Prakash has said that MTNL and BSNL would get the 4G spectrum within a month to kickstart their 4G plans.
MTNL to be Delisted First
Prakash also added that out of all the telecom operators, BSNL has the lowest debt and it could ask for credit from banks to fund its capex. As for 4G, Purwar has said that the company would float tender for 4G network within two months. It is also notable that BSNL is the only company besides Reliance Jio to add subscribers in the October 2018 to July 2019 period. Speaking about the merger of the two telecom companies, the telecom minister has said that since MTNL is a listed entity and it would have to be delisted first to make the merger happen with required regulatory approvals.