Telecom PSUs such as BSNL have earmarked an investment of Rs 16,815 crore for the next fiscal in a host of projects, including setting up of Wi-Fi hotspots, enhancing network quality and expanding broadband coverage. BSNL has earmarked capital expenditure of Rs 7,317 crore for 2016-17, while Bharat Broadband Network Limited, which is implementing the national optical fibre network, has investment plans of Rs 9,418.67 crore for the next fiscal.
“We have capex plan for Rs 7,317 crore. This includes setting up of 40,000 wifi hotspots, 10 times enhancement of core network capacity and Rs 2,000 crore of add-on equipment under phase 7 of network expansion,” BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava told PTI.
Loss making PSU MTNL will spend Rs 649.03 crore and Center for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) will invest Rs 100 crore, according to the budget documents. The budget indicates there will be progress in Rs 773.13 acre surplus land of government left with Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL), currently Tata Communications, after disinvestment in 2002. Special purpose vehicle Hemisphere Properties India Ltd (HPIL) created to resolve this issue will invest Rs 1 crore in 2016-17.
The government has decided to allocate Rs 18,413 crore to the Department of Telecom in 2016-17 which includes provisions for public sector units as well. In the budget, government has decided to allocate Rs 2,200 crore as a refund for surrendering broadband wireless spectrum (4G) in six circles and CDMA spectrum in the coming fiscal. MTNL surrendered 5 Mhz of CDMA spectrum that was put up for auction in Delhi and Mumbai and BSNL in around 8-10 telecom service area.
The Budget has provisioned for financial support of Rs 428.91 crore for loss making telecom firm MTNL in 2016-17. The support includes refund for minimum alternate tax (MAT), payment of interest on bonds and surrender of CDMA spectrum by MTNL. In current fiscal government has refunded Rs 492 crore as MAT to MTNL.