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BSNL to spend Rs 6,000 cr on expansion; Nokia, ZTE to get contracts (Lead)

Kolkata, Sep 8 (IANS) Public telecom operator BSNL will invest Rs 6,000 crore for installing 40,000 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) in the next two years to expand its mobile network and is in the process of awarding contracts to equipment vendors, an official said on Friday.

According to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava, Nokia and ZTE have emerged as the top two bidders for the expansion project.

“We have installed 40,000 BTS in the last three years and in the next phase of expansion, we again put 40,000 BTS in the next two years. Around Rs 6,000 crore would be invested in the next two years for the expansion,” Shrivastava said here.

“We have initiated the process of awarding contracts to equipment vendors. Nokia has emerged as the number one bidder, followed by ZTE. According to the rule, the L1 (number one bidder – in this case Nokia) has chosen West and South zones and L2 would be given North and East,” he said.

Nokia recently accepted the order and advance purchase order to ZTE would be issued in the next 10 days, he said, on the sidelines of launch of “Speedpay”, BSNL’s co-branded e-wallet services with the Punjab National Bank (PNB).

The new BTS would be a combination 2G, 3G and 4G, and the operator would replace the old 2G network.

Currently, BSNL has 1,30, 000 BTS and after the expansion, the total number would be 1,70,000.

Speaking on the state-run telecom operator’s financial health, Shrivastava said a revival plan had been chalked out and the company was expecting to make profits in 2018-19 once again.

According to him, it is expecting to be Ebitda positive (operating profit) for the third consecutive years in 2016-17. Revenue from operations is expected to be marginally high at Rs 28,700 crore in 2016-17 as against Rs 28,400 in 2015-16. The operator is computing its accounts for the 2016-17.

He said after suffering losses to the tune of Rs 691 crore in 2013-14, it reported operating profits of Rs 672 crore in 2014-15 and Rs 3,855 crore in 2015-16.

“Projections show that we will be Ebidta positive in 2016-17, too, while our revenue from operations will also improve,” he added.

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