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"BSNL is set for a qualitative, competitive jump", SD Saxena

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:39pm
Unassuming yet perky, demure yet skittish, reticent yet eloquent—the Director (Finance) of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) SD Saxena needs such paradoxical references for a suitable introduction.

The BSNL has achieved new heights since Saxena assumed charge of the Director (Finance) six years back. The sixth largest Telecom company in the world, BSNL has achieved a total capital outlay close to two billion dollars per annum during his stint.

Having worked with industry stalwarts like Sam Pitroda and GB Meemansi in C-DoT, Saxena who before joining BSNL taught Physics in Rajasthan University is credited with introducing Electronic Switching System in India.

A member of the Rakesh Mohan Infrastructure Committee, which made significant recommendations for the growth and development of Indian infrastructure sector, Saxena also worked as Senior Financial Expert at International Telecom Union (ITU) at Geneva.

In an exclusive interview with Pravin Prashant from iGovernment, SD Saxena talks about BSNL's performance, future plans and mobile infrastructure sharing. Excerpts:

How has BSNL performed in FY 2007-08?
In terms of numbers, BSNL's performance is not encouraging. In FY 2007-08, BSNL's revenue is around Rs 37,000 crore (provisional) vis-Ã -vis Rs 39,715 crore in FY 2006-07. Profit after tax (PAT) has also dropped from Rs 7,806 crore in FY 2006-07 to Rs 4,500 crore (provisional) in FY 2007-08.

The negative growth in revenue is attributed to the churn in fixed line numbers, drop in cellular growth due to limited expansion in GSM lines and also drop in fixed line tariffs. All these factors cumulatively resulted in drop in overall revenue for BSNL.

How you plan to translate BSNL's vision 2010?
On the mobile front, the equipment from Ericsson, Motorola, Nortel and ITI have started arriving and would be installed soon. We have also floated a tender for 90 million GSM (2G and 3G) lines across all the regions-north, south, west and east. The company has also floated an expression of interest for providing WiMax-based services on franchisee basis. Once these infrastructures become operational we will have no problem adding three million mobile connections and 0.5 million broadband connections per month.

Areas where BSNL is focusing in FY 2008-09?
We are looking at new schemes, infrastructure sharing, mobile services and broadband services for increasing our revenue for FY 2008-09. We have also aggressive plans both for mobile as well as broadband services.

Are you planning to share mobile towers with others?
We presently have around 50,000 towers and we are working on it. In a month times we are coming out with an infrastructure sharing policy which will focus on renting towers to new greenfield and existing operators. The policy will talk in detail about mobile tower sharing with other operators as we have large number of towers in rural areas.
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