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BSNL, MTNL turn EBITDA positive in first half of FY21, marks improvement

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NEW DELHI: State-owned telecom companies BSNL and MTNL turned EBITDA positive in the first half of financial year 2020-21, demonstrating a marked improvement in performance within a year of approval of their revival plan, the Communications Ministry said on Monday.

While EBITDA of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) rose to Rs 602 crore during the first half of 2020-2021, that of MTNL stood at Rs 276 crore, it said in a release.

Both organisations expect to reduce their losses by 50 per cent when compared to 2019-20, it said.

In so far as 4G services are concerned, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has made its position clear that core network for 4G will be “totally made in India”.

BSNL and MTNL are strategic assets, and will provide a big impetus to Indian manufacturers in the field of telecom.

“Now within a year of revival plan, the state-owned undertakings Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) have turned EBITDA positive in first six months of this financial year,” the release said.

Put simply, Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation or EBITDA is a measure of a company’s operational performance.

BSNL is once again back on the track of profitability, it added.

The improvement in performance came on the back of a sharp reduction in wage bill due to Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) under which nearly 50 per cent workforce of BSNL and 75 per cent workforce of MTNL was reduced.

Further, BSNL was able to maintain its revenue and cut down on other costs.

BSNL is also rapidly expanding its Fiber-To-The Home (FTTH) connections and the progress is being closely monitored by DoT.

“In the mobile segment, market share has increased to 10.36 per cent in October, 2020 as per figures published by TRAI. BSNL added over 10 million new customers during this financial year in mobile segment.

“This has also given fillip to government’s Digital India drive of cashless transactions as online transactions increased by over 43 per cent in December, 2020 since last financial year,” the release added.

The government had approved the revival package for BSNL and MTNL in October 2019 which included VRS, support for 4G spectrum, monetisation of core and non-core assets, sovereign guarantee for bonds to be raised by the public sector undertakings (PSUs), and merger of MTNL and BSNL in the short run.

“BSNL and MTNL have very successfully raised money from the bond route. In the recent bond offer of MTNL, the issue was subscribed more than 3 times and for BSNL more than 2 times,” it said.

MTNL and BSNL have been able to monetise core and non-core assets totalling Rs 1,830 crore in 2019-20, and the number is expected to be in excess of Rs 3,000 crore in the current year.

As many as six properties are expected to be approved for auction through DIPAM route, it pointed out.

“BSNL is monetising its tower assets by leasing out its towers. It earned Rs 1,018 crore in the previous year and has planned to securitise the earnings from tower rentals.

“BSNL towers have unique preposition of fiber connection in more than 70 per cent which make them highly attractive for telecom service providers,” it added.

Earlier on Monday, in a release summing up the developments in the sector as part of yearly review for 2020, the DoT had said the process for spectrum allocation for 4G services to BSNL on pan-India basis, including Delhi and Mumbai, has been initiated and funds have been provisioned in FY2020-21.

It said that overall 92,956 employees of both the PSUs who opted for VRS have retired on January 31, 2020.

“The salary expenditure in BSNL and MTNL has reduced by around 50 per cent (about Rs 600 crore per month) and 75 per cent (about Rs 140 crore per month), respectively. EBIDTA has become positive in first half of FY2020-21 in both BSNL and MTNL,” it said.

Further, sovereign guarantee of Rs 15,000 crore has been extended to BSNL/MTNL. They have raised funds from market to restructure existing high-cost debt, the DoT release said.

Source: Press Trust of India

5g

Apple rolls out beta programme for iPhones to enable 5G services

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NEW DELHI: Apple Inc has rolled out a beta programme to enable 5G on Apple devices as the upgrade lets users try out pre-release software.

This software upgrade enables 5G access on Apple devices, as and when service providers Jio, Airtel and Vodafone enable 5G network access, sources said.

Apple Users have to enrol for the Beta Programme on the website, install a profile and download the software.

Jio users using iPhone 12 and above, in cities where JioTrue5G has been rolled out, will be invited to the Jio Welcome Offer. Jio Welcome Offer provides unlimited 5G data at up to 1 Gbps speed to users at no additional cost. However, there is a condition that prepaid users must be on active Rs 239 and above plan. All Postpaid users are eligible for this trial.

Airtel is not providing any special 5G offer like Jio to their users. In the cities/areas in which the Airtel 5G network has been launched, users can trial 5G services as a part of their existing plan, once they have updated the latest Apple Beta software.

While an email sent to Apple did not solicit an immediate response, the firm had last month stated: “We are working with our carrier partners in India to bring the best 5G experience to iPhone users as soon as network validation and testing for quality and performance is completed. 5G will be enabled via a software update and will start rolling out to iPhone users in December”.

Airtel and Jio customers on iPhone 14, iPhone 13, iPhone 12 and iPhone SE (3rd generation) models can experience 5G as part of Apple’s iOS 16 Beta Software Program. The Apple Beta Software Program is open to anyone with a valid Apple ID who accepts the Apple Beta Software Program Agreement during the sign-up process.

If a user has an iCloud account, that is an Apple ID, it is recommended they use that. If they do not have an iCloud account or any other Apple ID, they can create one.

Customers who want to try the beta software should back up their iPhones before installing the beta software. It is recommended to install the beta software only on non-production devices that are not business-critical. Users can also provide feedback to Apple on quality and usability, which helps Apple identify issues, fix them, and make Apple software even better.

The iOS beta comes with the built-in Feedback Assistant app, which can be opened from the Home screen on the iPhone or iPad or from the Dock on the Mac.

Source: Press Trust of India

 

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Nokia wins multi-year deal with Reliance Jio India to build one of the largest 5G networks in the world

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NEW DELHI: Nokia has announced that it has been selected as a major supplier by Reliance Jio to supply 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment from its comprehensive AirScale portfolio countrywide in a multi-year deal. Reliance Jio is India’s number one mobile operator and has one of the largest RAN footprints in the world.

Under the contract, Nokia will supply equipment from its AirScale portfolio, including base stations, high-capacity 5G Massive MIMO antennas, and Remote Radio Heads (RRH) to support different spectrum bands, and self-organizing network software. Reliance Jio plans to deploy a 5G standalone network which will interwork with its 4G network. The network will enable Reliance Jio to deliver advanced 5G services such as massive machine-to-machine communications, network slicing, and ultra-low-latency.

Akash Ambani, Chairman Reliance Jio, commented: “We are pleased to be working with Nokia for our 5G SA deployment in India. Jio is committed to continuously investing in the latest network technologies to enhance the experience of all of its customers. We are confident that our partnership with Nokia will deliver one of the most advanced 5G networks globally.”

Pekka Lundmark, President and CEO at Nokia stated: “This is a significant win for Nokia in an important market and a new customer with one of the largest RAN footprints in the world. This ambitious project will introduce millions of people across India to premium 5G services, enabled by our industry-leading AirScale portfolio. We are proud that Reliance Jio has placed its trust in our technology and we look forward to a long and productive partnership with them.”

Nokia has a long-standing presence in India. This new deal will mean that Nokia is now supplying India’s three largest mobile operators.

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Ericsson partners with Jio to build industry’s first 5G Standalone network

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NEW DELHI: Ericsson has announced that it has entered into a long-term strategic 5G contract with Indian communications service provider (CSP) Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. (Jio) to roll out 5G Standalone (SA) in the country.

The announcement follows the allocation of 5G spectrum in the recently concluded auctions in India. This is the first partnership between Jio and Ericsson for radio access network deployment in the country.

Announcing the partnership, Akash Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Jio, says: “We are delighted to partner with Ericsson for Jio’s 5G SA rollout. Jio transformed the digital landscape in India with the launch of LTE services in 2016. We are confident that Jio’s 5G network will accelerate India’s digitalization and will serve as the foundation for achieving our nation’s ‘Digital India’ vision.”

Jio’s Standalone 5G network deployment represents a major technology leap since it modernizes the network infrastructure to deliver a truly transformative 5G experience to consumers and enterprises. The capabilities of 5G SA are expected to drive innovation and build a robust 5G ecosystem and deliver advanced services.

Ericsson’s energy-efficient 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) products and solutions from Ericsson Radio System and E-band microwave mobile transport solution will be deployed in the 5G network for Jio. All products and solutions are deployed on new-build 5G SA networks, designed to maximize the benefits of 5G to CSPs and their customers – whether individual subscribers or enterprise and industry customers.

Börje Ekholm, President and CEO, Ericsson, says: “India is building world-class digital infrastructure that will drive innovation, job creation and entrepreneurship across the country. We are happy to partner with Jio in those ambitions, through Ericsson 5G Standalone connectivity, which will be a major catalyst in meeting those digital transformation goals across society, enterprise and industry.”

 

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