Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is looking to upgrade about 50,000 sites to 4G across the nation. This will be phase 1 of the state-run telco’s 4G project. The remaining sites will be covered under phase 2. PK Purwar, CMD, BSNL told ET Telecom that the state-run telco had become an “operationally sustainable organisation”. BSNL now has a market share of 10.25%, and its sole focus is 4G now.
At the same time, BSNL’s broadband business is growing at a rapid pace. The state-run telecom operator has been adding about 1 lakh new FTTH customers every month, which is a solid growth rate. Further, last year, BSNL had turned into an EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation) positive company.
BSNL Trying to Overcome 4G Challenges: Purwar
Purwar said that BSNL is currently trying to overcome 4G challenges. The telco is going ahead with the homegrown technology/equipment and has also tested it live in Chandigarh recently. All the state-run telco is waiting for is the vendors to complete the proof of concept (PoC) challenge. Once that is done, Purwar said that BSNL could roll out live 4G networks within six months or by the next financial year. Purwar mentioned that the spectrum is not a challenge for the company.
As mentioned above, the first phase will focus on 50,000 sites across the nation. The second phase would focus on 40,000 sites. This means that the telco is planning to upgrade over 90,000 sites around India for 4G with the help of homegrown technology.
BSNL has also sought the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) intervention for raising about Rs 38,000 crores. This is to help with the capex for rolling out 4G services and also so that some part of the debt can be serviced.
So as Purwar said, if things go good for the telco, wishing six months, we might see live 4G networks of BSNL in many parts of the country.