Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) recently received a relief package from the government, which will also cover the capex for the 4G rollout and site upgrades that the state-run telco will make to deliver faster connectivity to its users. There are many who are wondering why BSNL is going for 4G when the other telcos are going for 5G. It is because if BSNL plans to launch 5G NSA, it will need a 4G core. Further, if you think that 4G is going to go out of style, well, here are some numbers for you. Ericsson, its Mobility report of June 2022, said that over 55% of the mobile subscriptions in India in 2027 would account for 4G. This means that a majority of the consumers, even five years down the line, will be using 4G mobile services.
5G Mostly Suitable for Enterprises Initially, BSNL can Focus on 4G and Attract Retail Consumers
It isn't a big surprise as consumers might not want to pay higher tariffs for 5G when they can get most of their work done through 4G networks. Since fibre broadband connections are expanding, users can rely on them with unlimited data for faster internet connectivity. In its initial launch phase, 5G is most appropriate for enterprises.
BSNL to Launch 4G Networks Using Homegrown Stack
The Indian government is looking after BSNL to ensure that it can launch homegrown 4G as soon as possible. The state-run telco worked with C-DoT (Centre for Development of Telematics) and TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) to develop a homegrown 4G stack. Jio, Airtel, and Vi (Vodafone Idea) will focus on 5G, but they will still compete heavily in the 4G segment. BSNL's entry would only stir up the competition even higher, which is actually good for the consumers at the end of the day.
Lower Tariffs With 4G Can Help BSNL Attract New Customers
BSNL can attract consumers by offering lower tariffs than private competitors. There are already some excellent prepaid plans present in the portfolio of BSNL. With the power of 4G networks, these plans would only grow in value provided to the consumers. BSNL is expected to do a soft launch of 4G networks this Independence Day on August 15, 2022.
A wider launch is expected at the end of 2022. In the next two years, BSNL plans to cover the entire nation with its 4G networks. The government is also selecting BSNL for USOF projects to provide connectivity in rural areas.
BSNL and BBNL Merger an Interesting Development
BSNL and BBNL (Bharat Broadband Network Limited) merger would make things sweeter for the telco. Since BBNL has a small team, it wouldn't take much for them to be merged with BSNL. What will be interesting is to see how BSNL leverages the fibre network deployed by BBNL across India.