The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which received a fresh lease of life with the Cabinet approving its revival plan in October, will be floating a tender in November-end for 4G expansion at up to 50,000 sites, said the sources adding with the aim of starting the service by June 2020 if it receives the spectrum by December end.
The turnaround plan of government included the allotment of spectrum for 4th-generation or 4G services at 2016 prices to BSNL/MTNL with costs to be borne by the government.
"We expect 4G spectrum by the this year's end. We will float a 50,000 e-nodes capacity tender next month. Our initial goal is to be able to do 50,000 sites from this tender -- 30,000 by upgradation and 10,000, for which we have already placed the order.
"In 18 months, 100,000 4G sites should be operational," P.K. Purwar, BSNL Chairman & Managing Director, had earlier told IANS.
By June 2020, BSNL's target was to be able to use the existing sites, which could be upgraded, he said. "Our target is to make 70,000-80,000 BSNL 4G s ites operational in the next 15 months," Purwar had said.
BSNL which is going to see reviving fortunes with the 4G spectrum allocation and an overwhelming 80,000 employee opting for the VRS, is depending on t he early roll out of its 4G service to be in contention and to cover up for t he delay of 2 years in 4G services vis-a-vis its rivals like Jio, Airtel, an d Vodafone Idea.
On Wednesday, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in Lok Sabha The government would revive debt-laden telecom operator BSNL Ltd and will work on making it profitable.
To trim mounting losses in BSNL, the government in October had announced a revival package that included the merger of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) with the former. Until the proposed merger, MTNL will operate as a sub sidiary of BSNL.
The revival package also included raising sovereign bonds worth a,1 5,000 crore, monetising assets amounting to Rs 38,000 crore, and a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for employees.
Of the 1 lakh eligible for VRS, over 80,000 employees of BSNL have so far opted for the scheme, according to a news agency report. The effective date of voluntary retirement under the present scheme is January 31, 2020.
BSNL estimates savings of Rs 7,000 crore in wages if 70,000-80,000 employees choose the scheme.