State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited or BSNL will be starting 4G expansion soon. The Central government announced 4G spectrum allocation for BSNL as part of the push to revive the public sector undertaking. “BSNL has been allotted 4G spectrum from April 1 and 4G technology will be implemented in 19 months,” Minister of State for Telecom Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre informed the Parliament. The development comes after the Central government assured the Rajya Sabha that BSNL and MTNL won’t be shut down and that plans to revive the state-funded telecom operator are underway. BSNL has been trying to launch 4G services in India to compete with the private telecom operators like Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea.
BSNL and MTNL are India’ Strategic Assets
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the house that BSNL and MTNL are India’s strategic assets and they have aided people during natural disasters. He admitted they were problems in the but outlined plan to revive them. “Don’t be under this impression that BSNL and MTNL will be shut down. We have infused a revival package in them and I assure you that these companies will not be shut down,” Prasad said replying to queries during the Question Hour.
The Minister said the BSNL’s revival plan involves optimal utilisation of the land resources and other assets of these companies. He added that as per the government policy that permits infrastructure sharing, BSNL and MTNL are both monetising their tower assets by sharing their towers with private telecom operators.
Besides using the towers for their own business, BSNL and MNTL’s towers have been leased to Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone-Idea. Similarly, both companies also use towers taken on rent from other companies.
Of total 13,416 mobile towers shared by BSNL, 8,363, 2,779 and 1,782 mobile towers are shared with Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea respectively. MNTL’s 402 mobile towers are shared of which Jio has 137, Airtel 100 and Vodafone-Idea 165.
The Minister added that BSNL and MTNL have outstanding dues of Rs 167.97 crore and Rs 11.62 crore from Reliance Jio Infocomm. The government is actively pursuing the company to recover the money.
BSNL Completed VRS Process Recently
In what would be considered as India’s largest mass retirement ever, more than 80,000 employees retired from BSNL on January 31, 2020. This will allow BSNL to stock the funds and use them carefully in the coming years. BSNL is already offering 4G services in select circles using the existing 3G spectrum, but the full-fledged 4G launch will make things even better.