Foreign vendors warn BSNL; failure of payment by December-end can lead to suspension of operation, reports ET


The government-owned telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has reportedly been given warning by its foreign vendors that include Nokia, ZTE and UTStarcom to make the payment of the outstanding amount by December 31.  The non-payment of the outstanding amount of over Rs. 3000 crores within the time can lead to stopping the support system of the telecom operator’s network across the nation.

The report published by an Indian daily Economic Times says that separate letters have been written to BSNL by the vendors complaining about the non-payment of their dues since November 2018 and making the final call to work on the future support programme only once the total amount is cleared by December 31 this year.

ET reports that Nokia in a letter to BSNL said “We have for the last 13 months not received any payments… the current outstanding w.r.t. our capex and opex receivable as approved FR at BSNL co is close to Rs 1,272 crore (including the notional cost of money interest component) as on December 10, 2019, can also not be denied”. A Nokia spokesperson told ET that the outstanding dues were creating pressure on its ability to continue with its investment in delivering to BSNL and seeking global approvals for any 4G expansions.

The Chinese telecom ZTE has a total of over Rs 1,300 crores pending outstanding amount on BSNL which includes both opex and capex. ZTE has asked for a clear plan to safeguard the future investment after a price-negotiation meeting held with BSNL for the proposed 4G upgradation of the existing 2G-3G network.

The 3G network, transmission and NGN network of BSNL are supported by another vendor UTStarcom. ET reports that UTStarcom’s Managing Director (India) Rahul Pandey said, ‘Our invoices are pending for over 500 days, and outstanding dues will surpass Rs 500 crore by December end… we can’t stop supporting BSNL because the network is critical, but January onwards we don’t know how we can continue’. As no assurance has been given by the Indian Telecom BSNL, UTStarcom has used the term ‘extremely difficult’ for the situation.

In conversation with ET, BSNL chairman Pravin Kumar Purwar said, ‘Multinational vendors are in touch with us, and all their issues will be resolved. They should wait till December-end. We’ll cross the bridge together’.

BSNL has around 117 million (11.7 crores) mobile phone users across the country.


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