NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday approved a Rs 1.64 lakh crore revival package for BSNL, comprising of converting dues into equity, financial support and allocation of spectrum in a bid to turn around the loss-making telecom PSU.
Also, Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL) - the firm that created a fibre network called BharatNet - will be merged with BSNL to boost its infrastructure and support telephony services, Telecom and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told a news conference here. “We are committed to strengthening BSNL,” he said. Telecom is a strategic sector where the government is committed to supporting BSNL.
“The first boost to it came from the 2019 revival package that made BSNL a stable entity and post that, it has made operating profits. With today’s revival package of Rs 1,64,156 crore, BSNL will become a viable entity,” he said. The revival measures focus on fresh capital for upgrading services, allocating spectrum, de-stressing its balance sheet and augmenting its fibre network by BBNL with BSNL, he said, adding the package has a cash component of Rs 43,964 crore and a non-cash component of Rs 1.2 lakh crore spread over four years.
“Previous package of Rs 74,000 crore in 2019 gave a good lifeline to BSNL. As a direct result, that began generating operating profit (Rs 1,000 crore). Now to make it a viable company, the financial restructuring has to be done,” he said. “Today’s decision will help make BSNL sustainable.”
With BSNL rapidly losing market share to private rivals, the state firm would have gone into a deep sink if government support was not provided to upgrade technology and services to match the competition. The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister approved an allocation of 900/1800 MHz band spectrum worth Rs 44,993 crore to support 4G services to BSNL, which has skipped participation in recent auctions of airwaves.
This allocation, he said, will allow BSNL to compete in the market and provide high-speed data.