Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is not generally considered a competition for private telecom companies in India. The major reason behind this is that BSNL is still offering legacy network services while private companies have already shifted to offering 4G and 5G services to consumers. But BSNL is soon expected to launch 4G, if not 5G. The telco is still working out the finer details of the testing with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), but once that is done, BSNL will start a phase-wise rollout of 5G in the country. With 4G available, the value of BSNL's plans would definitely increase. However, until the time 4G doesn't come, its prepaid plans don't really make any difference in the life of the consumers, even if they are slightly more affordable.
The big question is, should you subscribe to a long-term prepaid plan of BSNL?
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BSNL's Long-Term Plans
BSNL has several long-term prepaid plans on offer right now. Some plans offer a ton of data and additional benefits, while some plans are meant for keeping the SIM card active. One thing that every BSNL customer should think hard about before subscribing to a long-term plan from the telco is what is the kind of experience they are expecting.
In case the whole agenda is to keep the SIM active, then almost every long-term plan makes sense. However, when it comes to getting great value out of your purchase, then there could be a lot of problems for you. As mentioned, BSNL doesn't offer 4G services in the entire nation yet. There are some 4G sites of the telco that are already live, but these sites are not built using homegrown technology and aren't present widely.
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The only people that would get great value out of purchasing a long-term prepaid plan from BSNL are the ones that live under the 4G network coverage of the telco. Otherwise, it is probably a better option to go with the offerings of private telecom companies. You can't even take a long-term plan from BSNL under the promise or the expectation that the state-run telco would launch 4G in the coming months. There's never a guarantee with BSNL when it comes to the 4G launch.
Just to recall, BSNL's 4G launch has been delayed by several years. While BSNL has said that you can expect its 5G to arrive by the second half of this year, there is a chance that the telco will delay the launch further. Thus when it comes to the long-term prepaid plans of BSNL, they are sort of a double-edged sword. Either they will be of great value to you in case you are just looking to keep the SIM active or are living and travelling in areas where BSNL's 4G is available, or it will be of zero value to you, and you would have wasted a lot of money for recharging with a long-term plan.