The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has approved the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) plan that seeks airwaves in the 2100 Mhz band to launch fourth-generation (4G) services pan-India.
In 2017, BSNL has submitted a detailed project report and in a bid to acquire spectrum worth about Rs 13,885 crore, and sought Rs 6,652 crore as equity infusion from the government while it initially wanted to meet the remaining cost through revenue it would generate over a period of 10 years.
Meanwhile, the Telecom Commission, a highest telecom policy making body has extended the duration for spectrum payments from 10 to 16 years now, after an inter-ministerial group’s (IMG) recommendation.
The state-driven telco's original plan has thus revised to 16 annual installments.
“The telecom department has accepted our proposal and is in the process to allow spectrum in the 2100 Mhz band to run 4G services,” BSNL Chairman Anupam Shrivastava told ET Telecom, adding that the telco would be able to launch high-speed Long-Term Evolution (LTE) services soon.
LTE is a technology standard for high-speed wireless communication services for mobile devices.
Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, according to the BSNL executive, has put the entire allocation process on a fast track, and in a recent meeting with top DoT officials has given an 80-day timeframe to conclude the process so that the telecom PSU could get much awaited airwaves soon.
Industry insiders, however, have blamed the Narendra Modi-led NDA government for making BSNL handicap by not allowing much needed radio waves to launch 4G services even as the private players make technological advances in the wake of billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Jio’s pure-play 4G foray in September 2016.
With telecom market competition already becoming fiercer, BSNL’s full-fledged foray is expected to further disrupt the present market scenario as the state-run telco aims to offer affordable tariff in tandem with rivals to woo consumers in tier-II and tier-III locations.
Shrivastava said that the telco is planning to rollout 4G services on the 2100 Mhz band in all 21 licensed service areas (LSAs) except Rajasthan where it has airwaves in the 800 MHz range.
We have already rolled out 4G in Kerala and Karnataka on a pilot basis and can concurrently run 3G and 4G services if an additional 5 Mhz is allocated in the 2100Mhz band, the top official told ET Telecom earlier.
Delhi-headquartered telco also believes that rolling out 4G with an additional five units in the 2100 Mhz band could also help in utilization of unused spectrum by offering contiguity.