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BSNL suffers massive non-mobile loss, rethinks GSM tender

10 марта 2010

India's BSNL suffered a massive loss at its non-mobile operations last fiscal year, it emerged this week.

Simultaneously, the telco also hit the headlines over the re-working of its well-documented multi-million-line GSM tender, and local analyst firm RNCOS revealed its latest predictions for the Indian 3G market.

In a statement released to Lok Sabha - the lower house of India's parliament - on Monday, BSNL published figures that showed its "Other than Cellular" business line incurred a loss of 49.63 billion rupees (US$1.09 billion) in the fiscal year to March 2009.

The telco divides its operations into Cellular and Other than Cellular; the latter includes its fixed-line and broadband businesses.

BSNL provided the statistics at the request of Lok Sabha.

The Economic Times reported that while its non-cellular business racked up this sizeable loss, BSNL as a whole posted a profit of 5.75 billion rupees ($126 million) in the 2008-09 financial year thanks to interest on cash reserves. However, profits were down 81% on the previous year.

The paper also noted that non-telecom-related activities generated 50 billion rupees ($1.1 billion) in income for BSNL in the same year, implying that its mobile business is also not profitable.

It is no secret that BSNL has struggled to keep pace with its rivals in the mobile space in recent years. According to the latest figures from GSM industry body the COAI, BSNL ranked fourth of the GSM players at the end of January with 59.45 million customers and a 15.08% market share. In comparison, market leader Bharti Airtel had 121.71 million customers and a 30.86% share.

The company's problems have stemmed largely from the fact that its network cannot cope with demand and attempts to grow the infrastructure have been mired in controversy.

Last week BSNL finally scrapped its 93-million-line GSM tender, worth up to $10 billion according to various estimates, after a government panel questioned its procurement processes.

On Tuesday the Economic Times reported that BSNL is preparing a new GSM line tender for 40 million-50 million lines. It cited unnamed company executives in the report.

The paper explained that BSNL aims to complete the tender within 60 days of its launch and will eliminate a number of controversial clauses that contributed to the derailment of its last attempt. For example, previously the telco was required to split the contract between the two lowest bidders; now it may award the entire deal to a single firm.

"Additionally, BSNL may also include a clause, where it can place additional orders of up to 100% of the tender size with successful bidders," the paper said.

This clause could be vital to BSNL's development in coming years.

According to the Economic Times, junior minister for communications and IT Gurudas Kamat told the Lok Sabha on Monday that the telco plans to provide 20 million new lines in 2010-11 and a similar number in coming years.

As a state-owned player, BSNL is already offering 3G services in India, although its privately-owned competitors are still waiting for the auction of 3G spectrum, slated to take place on 9 April.

This week RNCOS published its latest forecasts for the Indian 3G market, predicting that 3G subscribers will reach around 60 million by the end of 2013.

Источник: Total Telecom

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