State-run BSNL has started the process to roll out 4G services across the country with an outlay of around Rs 11,000 crore. The company has come out with a tender for installing 50,000 new 4G sites in north, east, west and south zones and around 7,000 new sites for Delhi and Mumbai zones (for MTNL) entailing an investment of Rs 8,697 crore. The last date for vendors to apply for contracts is May 8 and bids will be opened on May 9. Apart from that, around 43,000 2G and 3G sites of the company will be upgraded to 4G, costing another Rs 3,500-Rs 4,000 crore.
According to the bidding document, the company with the lowest evaluated price of the technically and commercially responsive bids (L1) will be given the choice to select any three of the five zones for which the tender has been floated. The L2 bidder, thereafter, will be given the choice to select any one of the remaining two zones at L1 price.
In case L2 declines to accept the offer, the same shall be offered to L3 bidder and so on at the L1 price. If all remaining participating bidders refuse the offer, then it shall be obligatory on the L1 bidder to choose one of the remaining two zones at L1 price. The remaining fifth zone will be given to ITI Limited against reservation quota at L1 price and in case of refusal by ITI, the it will be obligatory for the L1 bidder to accept this zone as well on L1 price.
The government in October last year had approved a nearly Rs 70,000-crore revival package for the two state-run companies. The biggest chunk of the revival package — Rs 29,937 crore — was meant for voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for employees above 50 years of age. Over 78,300 BSNL employees and 14,378 at MTNL had opted for VRS. The government has already released Rs 10,000 crore for making payments to employees towards the VRS, leave encashment, EPF and other related payments.
With the monthly cost of staff coming down drastically due to VRS, the company is now gearing to expand its services. In order to arrange for funds for 4G network, BSNL has already written to the government to provide it with a sovereign guarantee of Rs 15,000 crore, which will allow it to raise money from the market. The finance ministry has said it will provide the guarantee this month. The guarantee is part of the revival package approved by the government.
Apart from the VRS, the government will provide Rs 23,814 crore towards administrative allocation of 4G spectrum to these companies. The government also said the two PSUs would monetise their assets like land worth Rs 38,000 crore over a period of four years.