The recent announcement that Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL) — which is implementing the government’s BharatNet project — would be merged with state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) came as a surprise to industry watchers.
At that event, he clarified the government has decided that BBNL and BSNL would be integrated. This means that BBNL’s pan-India work would be transferred to BSNL. BSNL already has an optical fibre cable (OFC) network of over 6.8 lakh kilometres. With the planned merger, BSNL will gain access to 5.67 million km of optical fibre that has been deployed throughout 1.85 million village panchayats across the country with the help of the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
The officials agreed that private telecom operators contribute to USOF and that consolidating BBNL assets under one player would go against the SPV’s purpose and goal of providing non-discriminatory access to rural broadband networks to all participants. Some industry insiders earlier told Financial Express that when combined with BSNL’s extensive market presence across the country, the merger can provide rural areas with last-mile connectivity.