Indian state-run telecoms service provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) plans to hive off its tower assets into a standalone business unit, which could be valued in the region of USD3 billion, its chairman Anupam Shrivastava has said. In an interview with IANS, Shrivastava said: ‘We already share our towers with private players. We are looking at a subsidiary company within the company. We want more focus on tower sharing.’ The official confirmed that BSNL will hold a majority stake in the new subsidiary, adding that ‘a cabinet note has already been moved’ to put the plan into action.
India is thought to be home to around 400,000 telecom towers, with that figure expected to grow at a rate of 3% per annum over the next few years, taking the total to around 511,000 by 2020. One independent report estimates that Indus Towers is the largest player in the sector, with a 31.0% market share, followed by BSNL with 18.1% – or 75,000 towers. The majority of its towers – 65,000 – will be moved to the new unit, Shrivastava said, noting that BSNL is the only company with towers located in the so-called ‘Naxal belt’, the strategic and sometimes unstable area in the northeast, comprising Jammu and Kashmir.