BSNL’s service revenue seen at Rs 17,000 crore in FY22; says it is confident of defending its turf with quality 4G services

Bharat Sanchar Nigam expects over Rs 17,000 crore revenue from its services in the FY22, a tad bit lower than the previous fiscal, mainly due to the removal of call connect charges that used to bring in
additional inflows, according to its Chairman and Managing Director PK Purwar.

Purwar asserted that the state-owned telecom corporation is confident of retaining its customer base and defending its turf with quality 4G services to be launched in the coming months, even as competition intensifies with private telcos gearing up for 5G services.

The start of 5G offerings by private operators will not place BSNL at an immediate disadvantage, as the
device ecosystem for the new-age services is still evolving, he said, adding that preparation for BSNL’s
4G services launch is well on track. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is targeting a 4G rollout in 2022.
“Despite the challenges, we have been able to maintain stable revenue (from services, excluding other
income) in the FY22. Against Rs 17,452 crore incomes from services in FY21, this year we will close at
over Rs 17,000 crore of revenue,” Purwar told PTI.

While substantial savings were derived on account of VRS (which brought down salary costs) and
maintaining a tight check on opex, the removal of call connect rates impacted the overall realizations, as
BSNL used to be a net IUC (interconnect usage charges) gainer. Asked how BSNL hopes to compete in a market where rivals are rolling up their sleeves for the 5G auction and subsequent launch of next-generation services, Purwar said that the telecom PSU will do all it takes to protect its commercial interests.

The roadmap on the FY23 is clear and there has been "good progress" on proof of concept where nearly all critical tests required for commercial deployment on the core side have been have been completed successfully. According to Union Budget documents, the government will infuse Rs 44,720 crore into BSNL in the next financial year.

The provision is made for capital infusion for the 4G spectrum, technology up-gradation and restructuring in the telecom PSU. The revival plan included measures to reduce the staff cost through a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), administrative allotment of spectrum for providing 4G services with funding through budgetary allocation, monetisation of non-core and core assets to generate resources to retire debt, meet capex and debt restructuring by raising of sovereign guarantee bonds.
BSNL and MTNL have turned EBITDA positive (operating profit) in 2020-21 as a result of these measures.