BSNL may launch 4G services next year: Telecom Minister

State-run telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is planning to upgrade its network for 4G GSM services through tender, and it may launch its 4G services during the next financial year (2017-18). The launch of 4G service will depend upon the outcome of a tender to upgrade its network for such services, Minister of State for Communications Manoj Sinha informed Lok Sabha in a written reply.

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The Minister also clarified that BSNL does not intend to participate in the upcoming spectrum auctions for 4G due to financial and other reasons. BSNL has earlier invited bids from telecom equipment providers to add 31.02 million new users of its 3G/4G services across the country. The telecom operator is planning to join the 4G bandwagon by launching commercial high-speed services in 14 circles where it possesses 20 MHz liberalised BWA spectrum in 2500 MHz band, following a soft launched of 4G services in Chandigarh.

BSNL had paid Rs 8,313.80 crore for 2,500 MHz spectrum in all its service areas but later returned airwaves in 6 Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kolkata.

According to various reports, the state-run telecom operator is exploring two methods — revenue sharing model and capex model — for the 4G rollout across these 14 telecom circles.

BSNL is also planning to install 3700 Wi-Fi hotspots during 2016-17. It has already installed 2526 Wi-Fi hotspots to provide wireless internet services. On MTNL’s 4G plans, Sinha said that the telco has no immediate plans of launching 4G services as it has already surrendered 2300 MHz band spectrum. “As of now, MTNL has not taken any decision regarding taking part in the forthcoming phase of spectrum auctions for 4G,” he added.

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