In what could be its first step towards reversing its fortunes, BSNL is foraying into broadband service targeting the rural areas and engaging business partners who will handle the last mile customer-facing activities. The state-owned communications company has set a target of 100,000 customers before the end of the next financial year, March 2021.
The company has explained the business model. BSNL will call for appointment of business partners predominantly from rural pockets. These partners will have to typically make an investment of ₹45,000 to ₹50,000. When they provide an installation at the user’s end, a cost of approximately ₹3,000 will be incurred. The service can be provided at an average tariff of ₹500 per month to the consumers.
The service known as Bharat Airfibre will be drawn from the radio frequency available to it free of cost. This frequency cannot be put to effective use within cities since there will be interference from microwave ovens etc. BSNL hopes the rural areas will not pose such issues. The customers can enjoy Wi-Fi internet and even voice call making facilities with this Bharat Airfibre broadband connection.
BSNL is in the process of identifying and appointing the partners and is confident of getting around 3,000 such partners to come on board.
BSNL has been going through an acute financial crisis for some years now. The government also took some time making a final decision on the future of the company along with the other entity, MTNL. Only last month, the government finalised an arrangement with the managements of the companies. Under this, the two entities will merge together to form a single telecom company. There will be a large-scale reduction of the workforce to bring the recurring salary bill down to manageable levels.
The government has agreed to a package of around ₹70,000 crore to pull the companies out of their mess and put them on the path of recovery.