The Indian government is planning to merge Bharat Broadband Nigam Limited (BBNL) – the special purpose vehicle established by the government for the deployment of a nationwide fibre network (BharatNet) – into state-owned full-service provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), the Economic Times writes, citing a speech from BSNL Chairman PK Purwar. The tie-up would hand the loss-making operator an additional 567,000km of fibre, connecting 185,000 villages nationwide. The paper notes that unnamed BBNL officials questioned the decision, given BSNL’s difficulties in completing BharatNet-related projects. The officials also expressed concerns regarding the plan to transfer the network, which was intended to provide non-discriminatory access to all players, to a single provider.
In a separate development, meanwhile, the chairman was quoted as saying that BSNL expects revenue of INR170 billion (USD2.24 billion) in the year to 31 March 2022, down slightly from INR174.5 billion in the preceding year. The executive attributed the dip to the loss of interconnect revenues following the elimination of mobile termination charges from 1 January 2021. Mr Purwar added that the company’s 4G launch was on track to take place later this year and dismissed claims that the company would struggle to compete with privately backed cellcos, which are gearing up for a 5G launch in 2023.