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BSNL may open up a new revenue stream with the launch of 5G

The launch of 5G services by private operators later this year may open up a revenue stream for the state-run, loss-making BSNL.

The company is looking at leasing its 68,000 telecom towers, 65% of which are fiberised, to private mobile operators who would need more capacity.

According to sources, the company has already leased out 13,500 telecom towers earning an annual revenue of more than Rs 1,000 crore, which is consistently increasing.

“5G deployment by operators will require a greater number of sites and BSNL is in a better position to lease out fiberised sites,” said an official.

The percentage of BSNL’s fiberised towers is much higher than the industry average of 34%.

Fiberisation of mobile networks is essential for providing 5G services as well as to cater to the digital connectivity needs of smart city administration like CCTVs, sensors and other public address systems. Since, the data load on 5G networks will be much higher as compared to 3G and 4G, a fiber backhaul is necessary for seamless connectivity.

The strategy to monetise tower and fiber assets has been yielding results.

In FY21, the company raised around Rs 1,800 crore by securitising tower rentals. It leased around 200,000 km fiber network to earn annual revenue of Rs 392 crore.

BSNL has informed the government that it has around 800,000 route km of optical fiber cable, of which 25% can be monetised.

As per its internal assessment, the approximate value of OFC which can be monetised is Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 5 lakh/km).

BSNL, which is preparing to launch 4G services soon, along with MTNL has been trying to monetise their assets, which include real estate, fiber assets and towers. Apart from the monetisation, the companies are seeking government support worth Rs 1.6 trillion, of which `36,260 crore would be cash support for BSNL/MTNL over the next three years.

Although the merger of BSNL and MTNL is not happening in near future due to high debt of MTNL, there are synergies between the two firms.

Going forward, BSNL will be offering services in Mumbai and Delhi. BSNL aims to become profit making company by 2025-26. MSN

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