State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) hopes to soon rope-in a consultant to work out modalities for hiving-off the mobile tower business into a separate company, its CMD Anupam Shrivastava has said. The Cabinet, in September, had cleared spinning off the mobile tower assets of the telecom corporation into a separate company. BSNL owns 65,000 of the estimated 4.42 lakh total mobile towers in the country, or 15 percent share. A committee has already been formed with representatives from Telecom Department and BSNL to look into the requirements and formalities for the separate tower company, Shrivastava told PTI. "We are also hiring a consultant... who will drive us through the formation of tower company," he said. The consultant could be hired on nomination basis, meaning a firm that has already done work for the telecom PSU, he added.
The corporation hopes to hire the consultant in about a fortnight if all goes well. Shrivastava said the final proposal outlining the modalities for the new company along with recommendations from the consultant could be placed before the BSNL board as early as December. As per the Cabinet approval, the new company will be fully owned by BSNL. An independent, dedicated tower business of BSNL with a focused approach is also expected to lead to more external tenancies and, thereby, higher revenue at a time when 5G is all set to take off in a big way. There will also be another upside. "Unless we have a separate company, the revenue for tower business or infrastructure business forms part of adjusted gross revenue. That attracts licence fee and spectrum usage charge at this point of time...Separate tower company will not attract that levy," he added.
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