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BSNL to hive off, monetize 66,000 towers

The sick PSU, which operates in India except for Delhi and Mumbai, earns around Rs 250-300 crore from tower leasing

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BSNL to hive off, monetize 66,000 towers
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The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved hiving off the mobile tower assets of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) into a separate company to be fully owned by BSNL.

BSNL owns 66,000 telecom towers in India, out of the total 4.4 lakh. An independent, dedicated tower company of BSNL with a focused approach will lead to increasing of external tenancies and consequentially higher revenue for the new company, according to an official statement. “This approval authorises BSNL to monetise its telecom tower infrastructure with the formation of a separate subsidiary company,” it said.

The sick PSU, which operates in India except for Delhi and Mumbai, earns around Rs 250-300 crore from tower leasing. It has leased out 4,500 towers to Reliance Jio and about 1,500 to Bharti Airtel, according to a senior official. Most of the BSNL’s towers are located in rural and remote areas, which is why private telecom players prefer to lease out BSNL’s towers rather than investing in their own infrastructure. The monetization of towers along with other passive infra assets could help the firm to raise Rs 10,000-15,000 crore, the official said.

BSNL has been suffering losses since last few years and is struggling to survive in a hyper-competitive telecom market.

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