Home >Companies >News >BSNL to revisit 5G trial partners amid India-China standoff
BSNL had earlier signed a MoU with China-based telecom equipment manufacturer, ZTE, to work on 5G wireless technology for research and knowledge-sharing purposes.
BSNL had earlier signed a MoU with China-based telecom equipment manufacturer, ZTE, to work on 5G wireless technology for research and knowledge-sharing purposes.

BSNL to revisit 5G trial partners amid India-China standoff

  • BSNL has identified 14 assets for monetisation as part of the govt’s revival plan
  • Of the 14, 11 assets worth 18,000 crore have been approved by the management for monetisation in the next one year

MUMBAI : Amid growing tension with China, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) will revisit its 5G trial strategy and look at the applications submitted by vendors supplying such technology, the company Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Pravin Kumar Purwar said on Monday.

In September 2017, the state-owned telecom operator had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China-based telecom equipment manufacturer, ZTE, to work on 5G wireless technology for research and knowledge-sharing purposes.

Tensions between India and China escalated in June, when 20 soldiers of the Indian Army were killed in a clash with Chinese forces along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. Since then, the government has taken several steps to bar trade with the neighbour, including the ban on more than 200 Chinese applications.

Only a handful companies — Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung, ZTE and Huawei — supply 5G gear, a state-of-the-art technology. The last two are Chinese.

What BSNL expects from the govt

Purwar said the committee headed by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) member (Technology) recently submitted its views on fourth-generation 4G spectrum allocation and he expects the government to soon allot 4G radio airwaves to BSNL.

“We expect the government will finalise the recommendations so that 4G can be allotted," Purwar said. BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) do not have 4G spectrum. BSNL provides 4G services using high-end Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) in certain circles.

The telco has identified 14 assets for monetisation as part of the government’s revival plan for BSNL and MTNL. Of the 14, 11 assets worth 18,000 crore have been approved by the management for monetisation in the next one year, Purwar said.

50% of assets to be monetised

“This is a big challenge and task for us. Last six months have been a challenge due to the covid-19 pandemic. We expect at least 50% of the assets should be monetised but all depends on overall economic scenario, market appetite and business sentiment," he said.

Despite the Covid pandemic, Purwar said that the telecom operator managed to raise 8,500 crore via its maiden local bond sale on Monday. The sale fetched 229 bids valuing 17,183.10 crore, double the actual issue size.

“These bonds are planned to be listed on the BSE soon and are to be used for debt re-financing and meeting the capex requirement of BSNL," according to a press statement.

Top institutional investors such as HDFC Bank Ltd, ICICI Bank Ltd, Axis Bank Ltd, State Bank of India (SBI), ICICI Securities Primary Dealership bid on the debt securities. SBI and ICICI Primary Dealership, two of the large investors, are said to have invested 1,500-1,600 crore each.

Purwar said the money raised and other efforts combined will enable the company “to turn into Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) positive in 2021".

“The investors’ response indicates the high level of trust of the all investors including banks, mutual funds, pension funds, etc. in BSNL," the statement quoted Parmar as saying.

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