BSNL plans Rs 4,300 crore Capex as Jio and Airtel challenge growth

BSNL Kerala offersIndian telecom operator BSNL is planning to make an investment of nearly Rs 4,300 crore to expand its network during 2018-19 as the company is continuing to face challenges from Jio and Airtel.

The Capex (capital expenditure) of Rs 4,300 crore is in addition to Rs 5,000-6,000 crore earmarked for India government’s telecom projects, PTI reported.

The investment program indicates that BSNL aims to attract customers from troubled telecom operators such as Aircel, Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices, among others. BSNL has increased its wireless market share to 9.4 percent in January 2018 from 9.24 percent in December 2017.

But broadband is becoming a challenging area for BSNL. The mobile operator, according to the latest TRAI report, has lost its broadband customer base to 21.81 million in January 2018 from 21.95 million in December 2017.

Reliance Jio increased its broadband subscriber base to 168.39 million from 160.09 million, showing its strength in the Indian 4G market.

Airtel, which is facing challenges from Reliance Jio, increased its broadband subscriber base to 75.01 million from 71.09 million.

Vodafone, which is merging its operations with Idea Cellular, has enhanced its broadband subscriber base to 54.83 million from 52.44 million.

Idea Cellular’s broadband subscriber-base increased to 37.33 million from 34.81 million, TRAI said.

BSNL, which is owned by India government, will be spending nearly Rs 4,300 crore for the expansion of strengthening of the mobile network, upgrading broadband infrastructure and strengthening the core network.

BSNL will be spending Rs 5,000 to 6,000 crore on the government projects like Bharat Net for broadband expansion, network for spectrum, the comprehensive telecom development plan for north east, as well as boosting connectivity to Andaman with optical fibre network, and others.

BSNL will be executing government projects include providing bandwidth to Lakshadweep Islands, and connecting remote areas of Arunachal Pradesh.

“Government is investing in large connectivity projects, where private players are not going. BSNL is being used as one of the vehicles to execute those projects and we do that work on behalf of government,” said BSNL chairman and managing director Anupam Shrivastava.

BSNL is planning to install 12,000 mobile towers for 3G services and 10,000 for 4G services. This will have a provision for 100 percent expansion mapped to BSNL’s 4G services roll out and spectrum allocation.

Private telecom operators such as Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone are expecting to reveal their Capex plans for 2018-19 next month.