Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited’s plan of acquiring 4G airwaves has been cleared by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) as per the latest report. The state-owned telco while on the lookout for launching 4G services in India had compiled and submitted a detailed project report to get the airwaves in the 2100Mhz band for starting 4G services in India. At present, the spectrum’s cost stands at Rs 13,885 crore. To let the deal go through, BSNL was seeking Rs 6,652 crore as equity infusion from the government while it planned to bring the rest of the amount using the revenue it generates in the next ten years.
Spectrum Payment Term Extended from 10 to 16 Years
In a related development, based on inter-ministerial group’s (IMG) recommendations, the highest decision-making body in India, Telecom Commission extended the duration of spectrum payments from 10 to 16 years. This comes as a relief for the state-owned telco as the payment terms have been revised from 10 years to 16 annual instalments. BSNL Chairman, Anupam Shrivastava told ET, “The telecom department has accepted our proposal and is in the process to allow spectrum in the 2100 Mhz band to run 4G services.” Following the acquisition of the new airwaves in this band, BSNL will be finally able to launch Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in India.
BSNL 4G Process Slated to Finish in 80 Days
Telecom Minister, Manoj Sinha has also participated in hurrying up the airwaves allocation process as Anupam Shrivastava informed. In a recent meeting with the top DoT officials, the telecom minister has set an 80-days timeframe to complete the entire process. This deadline means that finally, the government-led telco will be able to hasten the process of availing 4G services.
However, as per the industry insiders, the Narendra Modi led NDA government has to be blamed for the delay in deployment of 4G services by the government led telco. According to them, the telco has was crippled because the 4G services weren’t allowed to be launched on the radio waves. In the meantime, following the entry of Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Jio into the market, the competition grew to staggering heights, and the private players went on bringing technological innovations in the market thus pushing BSNL aside.
Concurrent 3G and 4G Services Possible with 5MHz Additional Spectrum
Discussing BSNL’s further plans, Shrivastava commented that the telco would launch 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. Further, the provision of 4G will mean that the telco will be head-on with the private players as now it will be providing affordable alternative plans for the existing ones in tier II and tier III cities.
Another official talked about the telco's pilot 4G service in Kerala and Karnataka. He further added that the company could run 3G and 4G services together if it an additional 5 Mhz is allocated in the 2100Mhz band.