cell tower

State run telco BSNL has gotten a union cabinet nod to hive off its tower assets to form a separate company, reports NDTV. The towers company is valued at Rs 20,000 crore and BSNL will also need to pay the new company money to rent the towers. BSNL currently claims to have 75,000 towers, out of which around 65,000 will be moved to the new company.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) will formulate an inter-ministerial group (IMG) consisting of representatives of the Department of Public Enterprises, Department of Pension & Pensioners Welfare and Department of Economic Affairs in order to work out the capital and org structure after a market valuation is done.

Funds from the government: The cabinet will pump in Rs 169.16 crore to BSNL and Rs 458.04 crore to MTNL after the companies surrender 800 MHz carriers from some of their circles (4 BSNL licensed service areas, one carrier of 1.25 MHz each; and two carriers from MTNL Delhi and Mumbai of 1.25 MHz each). Asian Age reports that the spectrum sale is likely to yield revenues of Rs 3,777 crore. An ET report states that BSNL has an estimated 1 lakh base stations and has leased out over 5,400 towers to private operators. A Deccan Herald report points out that BSNL started sharing its towers with other operators from 2010.

Over 77 million subscribers: According to the Indian telecom regulator TRAI, India added 9.58 million “active” mobile connections during the month of February 2015. In the same month, BSNL lost 2.55 million connections, taking its connection base to 77.59 million.

Free roaming for BSNL users: In June, BSNL implemented free roaming for all its subscribers starting June 15. After proposing a slash in roaming call and SMS charges in March, the TRAI reduced the ceiling tariffs for national roaming calls and SMSes and had mandated telcos to offer a special roaming tariff plan to pre-paid and post-paid subscribers in April, to come into effect from May. Following these instructions, BSNL had adopted the new roaming call charges.

Landline revival plan: In April, in a bid to revive its landline business, BSNL started offering free unlimited calling from landlines to anywhere in India (landlines and mobiles) from May 1. The unlimited calling scheme would work during 9pm and 7am and applicable for 6 months, after which response would be checked and reviewed.

Image Credit: Flickr user Michael Dorausch