The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a third revival package for BSNL. The state-owned operator will receive, via equity infusion, spectrum in the 700MHz band, the 3,300MHz band, the 26GHz band, and the 2,500MHz band, the Cabinet announced.
“With this spectrum allotment, BSNL will be able to provide pan India 4G and 5G services; provide 4G coverage in rural and uncovered villages under various connectivity projects; provide Fixed Wireless Access [FWA] services for high-speed Internet; and provide services/spectrum for Captive Non-Public Network [CNPN],” the government said in a release.
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The infusion, which would allow the rollout of BSNL’s 4G network (and eventually a 5G network) to proceed throughout the country at a faster pace, has a total outlay of ₹89,047 crore. “After a few months of field deployment [of 4G and 5G networks], it will be rapidly rolled out across the country on BSNL network,” the government said.
The first two revival packages in 2019 and 2022 were of ₹69,000 crore and ₹1.64 lakh crore respectively, and allowed the embattled state-owned operator to start booking operating profits and pay off its Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues.
The revival also takes importance in the light of the precarious condition of one of the three telecom operators, Vodafone Idea Ltd. If the firm were to collapse, BSNL may be the last check in the market on a duopoly in wireless telecommunications. The government is also trying to finish merging BSNL with MTNL, the other state-owned operator that is functional in Mumbai and New Delhi.