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PowerGrid gives telecom network to BSNL on rent
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Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL) has initiated talks with the public sector telecom service provider, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), to see if the latter is interested in leasing space from its towers, of which the former has around 500,000.

Speaking to Business Standard, S K Chaturvedi, chairman and managing director, PGCIL, who was here to launch the country’s largest tower testing facility set up by Larsen & Toubro at Kanchipuram near Chennai, said the corporation has diversified into the telecommunication business, creating a telecom network by principally using its overhead transmission infrastructure. The corporation owns and operates a fibre-optic cable network across the country.

PGCIL had invested Rs 1,000 crore to upgrade the existing systems and to lay around 20,000 km of new optical fibre cables across the country and has readied another Rs 150-200 crore investment for this, he added.

“We have been keen to lease capacity on towers and optical fibres to both Indian and overseas telecom operators to generate additional revenues,” he said. PowerGrid has an annual revenue target of Rs 150 crore from telecom services for the current financial year and had set a target of Rs 500-600 crore by March 2012.

“For the first time, we made a profit of Rs 10 crore from this business and brought in almost all the service providers in the country into the network,” said Chaturvedi.

The corporation has been leasing bandwidth on this network to more than 60 customers, including major telecom operators such as BSNL, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, Tata Teleservices Ltd, Reliance Communications Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd.

“We are the among the few telecommunication network providers, which has infrastructure in remote areas, including the northeastern region of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura,” he said. The corporation has also created its network across Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

PGCIL has been granted Infrastructure Provider-I (IP-I) and Internet Service Provider Category-A (ISP-A) licences. In July 2006, it acquired a National Long Distance (NLD) Licence, which enables it to offer its services to non-licensed service providers such as entities in the corporate, government and defence sectors.

Since then, Power Grid has added customers such as the army, the Intelligence Bureau, Central Reserve Police Force and National Informatics Centre, according to its website.

The corporation has now initiated talks with BSNL to lease out its towers across the country for telecom purposes, said Chaturvedi. “We will also work with National Knowledge Commission for interconnectivity of universities, colleges, IIMs and IITs,” he added.
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