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State-run BSNL expects to arrest decline in landline connections with unlimited free call offer and modernisation of its exchanges. "Initial feedback we have is that there is an increase of 35 per cent in new connection bookings after BSNL launched unlimited free calling scheme during night.
With this and modernisation of exchanges, I can see growth coming back in landline business," BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava told reporters here.
The public sector company announced a scheme in May that allows making calls free of cost to any operator, including mobile phones, anywhere in the country between 9 PM and 7 AM and covers all types of connections.
The company is market leader in landline business with over 61 market share. BSNL is investing around Rs 2,000 crore to modernise its telephone exchanges to deliver modern services through landline phones. "The project will be completed in two years.
We will use landline phones to boost our broadband services as well," Shrivastava said. He said that BSNL's performance in the market has been very competitive. "Our performance has been in line with market despite legacy issues. BSNL wages outgo is about 55 per cent of total revenue where we need to improve.
BSNL was market leader in 2006 but we could not procure equipment when market was growing. But that is past and we are now moving ahead positively," he said. In a presentation to government, BSNL had earlier said that it aims to become profitable again in 2018.
BSNL is restructuring assets with aim to monetise them. The company is waiting for government approval to hive off its mobile tower business into a separate company for its optimum utilisation.
"We expect to hear very soon from government on it. I believe government has floated a cabinet note on it," he said. Shrivastava said that BSNL is focusing on revenue sharing model with various players across its businesses. "For tower deal we are open to all. Reliance Jio has rented 4,500 of towers and Airtel 1,500.
We have had initial talks with MTS (Sistema Shyam) for spectrum sharing but could not proceed further as we learnt that they have separate plans. We are still open for it, specially for 800 Mhz (CDMA) band," he said.
The company is also working to set-up 40,000 wifi hotspots with investment of Rs 6,000 crore in next three years.