BSNL eyes Rs 60,000 crore capex in three years

State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) has chalked out plans to invest Rs 60,000 crore over the next three years. The PSU is of the view that this capex will enable it to double its turnover, take its mobile subscriber base to over 140 million by 2010 and also enhance its broadband base to about 20 million during this period.

BSNL’s new chairman and managing director (CMD) Kuldeep Goyal is set to unveil BSNL’s expansion plans in Delhi on Friday. BSNL has 29 million mobile subscribers and over a million broadband users.

To put BSNL’s capex in perspective, consider this: Bharti Airtel, India’s largest private telecom operator, is investing about $3.5 billion (Rs 14,000 crore) in financial year 2007-08. Bharti will have to invest over $11 billion in the following two years to match BSNL’s proposed capex.

According to a source, BSNL has set a target of providing 3 million telephone connections and 500,000 broadband lines every month from January 2008 to achieve its target of doubling its turnover by 2010.

The state-owned telco plans to invest in new technologies including the launch of 3G services. It would also expand its WiMax pilot project, initially being executed at 10 urban and rural centres, to other locations across the country and enable Wi-Fi access with 300 new hotspots at airports, malls and hotels in 20 cities.

BSNL is also planning to roll out broadband services in talukas and villages, with an intial roll-out planned in three circles of Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, a source said. It would set up soft-switch infrastructure to leverage on voice over IP (VoIP) traffic under a revenue-share arrangement and invite expressions of interest (EoIs) from IT infrastructure companies for the same.

To improve its transmission, the operator is expected to announce investments in new technologies like internet protocol (IP)-based new generation network (NGN), submarine cable and fibre-to-the-home. NGN architecture is expected to be deployed in a phased manner over the next five years.