State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which received a fresh lease of life on Wednesday as the Cabinet approved its revival plan, will float a tender in November for 4G expansion at up to 50,000 sites. Also, as the Cabinet has given in-principle approval to merger of BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, MTNL needs to delist from bourse. Pending merger, MTNL would act as a subsidiary of BSNL, said Telecom Minister R.S. Prasad.
"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, 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 sites operational in the next 15 months," Purwar said.
On the BSNL-MTNL merger approval, the BSNL Chairman said, "We would like to synergise. But we didn't have detailed discussions and we have not done analytical analysis. We will immediately start to work on it."
On delisting from the bourses, he said as a subsidiary delisting was not required. "Any company that is being controlled or whose over 50 percent share is owned by the parent company can be a listed entity. As on date, the government has 56.25 percent stake in MTNL. Thus, MTNL can be made a subsidiary without any delisting. For merger, delisting is a requirement. Merger is over a longer horizon and many of the staff related issues we need to iron out," he said.
The revival packages also include raising Rs. 15,000 crore sovereign bonds, monetising Rs 38,000 crore assets in four years and voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for employees.