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According to Budget documents, the Centre will be infusing 44,720 crore into loss-making state-owned telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) in the next fiscal.

"The provision is made for capital infusion for 4G spectrum, technology up-gradation and restructuring in BSNL," the explanatory note in the document said.

Apart from the capital infusion, the Centre will provide additional financial support of 7,443.57 crore to the telecommunications company for a voluntary retirement scheme and 3,550 crore as grant-in-aid for payment of GST.

The financial support for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) includes the implementation of the scheme at both BSNL and MTNL. The support for goods and services tax (GST) will be provided to BSNL for the payment of GST on the allocation of 4G spectrum, as per the documents.

The additional financial support for the public sector firms is in addition to the 69,000-crore relief package the government provided them in October 2019.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also said the government will conduct a spectrum auction this year, which will facilitate the roll-out of 5G services by private telecom operators during the financial year 2022-23.

"Spectrum auctions will be conducted in 2022 to facilitate the roll-out of 5G mobile services within 2022-23 by private telecom providers," Sitharaman said.

She said the telecommunications sector in general and 5G, in particular, can enable growth and offer job opportunities.

"A scheme for design-led manufacturing will be launched to build a strong ecosystem for 5G as part of the production-linked incentive scheme," the FM said.

She said that to enable affordable broadband and mobile service proliferation in rural and remote areas, 5 per cent of annual collections under the universal service obligation fund will be allocated.

"This will promote R&D and commercialisation of technologies and solutions. Our mission is that all villages and their residents should have the same access to e-services, communication facilities and digital resources as urban areas and their residents," FM said.

She added that the contract for laying optical fibre in all villages, including remote areas, will be awarded through the BharatNet project through PPP in 2022-23.

"Completion is expected in 2025. Measures will be taken to enable better and more efficient use of the optical fibre," FM said.

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