State-owned telecom companies BSNL and MTNL turned EBITDA positive in the first half of financial year 2020-21, DoT said on Monday.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) also said that the process for spectrum allocation for 4G services to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) on pan-India basis, including Delhi and Mumbai, has been initiated and funds have been provisioned in FY2020-21.
Summing up the developments in the sector in its year-end review for 2020, the DoT in a release said that overall 92,956 employees of both the public sector companies (PSUs) who opted for Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) have retired on January 31, 2020.
"The salary expenditure in BSNL and MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd) 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 (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation) have become positive in first half of FY 2020-21 in both BSNL and MTNL," it said.
Put simply, EBITDA is a measure of a company's operational performance.
Further, sovereign guarantee of Rs 15,000 crore has been extended to BSNL/MTNL. They have raised the funds from the market to restructure existing high-cost debt.
The comprehensive revival plan drawn up for the two ailing telecom corporations included multiple measures including reduction of staff cost through VRS, allotment of spectrum for 4G services, monetisation of land/building, tower and fiber assets of BSNL and MTNL, debt restructuring through sovereign guarantee bond and in-principle approval of merger of BSNL and MTNL.
On the department-led initiatives around management of COVID-19 pandemic, it said Quarantine Alert System was developed for in-house monitoring and management of quarantine geo-fence, and the system has been used by 18 states and union territories (UTs) so far.
"It has handled approximately 27 lakh targets (identified Covid +ve or quarantined person) and generated more than 18.30 crore quarantine breach alerts," it said.
Over 300 crore SMS alerts were sent to citizens in 10 vernacular languages in 26 states/UTs for COVID-19 awareness under 'Covid-19 Savdhaan System', it added.
India has the second largest telephone connections globally. The number of telephone connections rose to 1171.72 million as on October 30, 2020, of which 1151.73 million are mobile connections, it said.
The tele-density reached 86.37 per cent while the rural tele-density is at 58.85 per cent.
The number of internet subscribers stood at 776.45 million as on September end, the statement said, adding that the total broadband connections reached 726.32 million during the period.
"This has accelerated the growth in internet traffic, with wireless data usage being 75.21 Exabytes during the period of January to September 2020. The cost of data has also reduced substantially to Rs 10.55 per GB, enabling affordable internet access for millions of citizens," it added.
Under the BharatNet project, nearly 1.50 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) have already been connected with high-speed broadband connectivity which will help in launching various services in the rural areas.
As on December 28, 2020, Wi-Fi hotspots have been installed in GPs and about 4.8 lakh Fiber to The Home (FTTH) broadband connections have been provided.
On 5G, it said, the emerging technology has the potential for major societal transformation in India by enabling massive expansion of digital products and services across all sectors.
"In order to launch 5G services in India, DoT has set up indigenous 5G testbed, a consortium project led by IIT Madras and other leading institutions. A 5G hackathon was also organised for development of India specific use cases," the statement said.
The first 5G use case lab has been set up at Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDBRT), Hyderabad in financial sector.
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