Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has been denied a level playing field compared to the private telecom operators with regard to rolling out of 4G services, said the Standing Committee on Communications and IT. While the private telcos are rolling out 5G, BSNL is still working out its 4G rollout plans. The state-run telecom operator has had to face several losses due to the fact that it is still providing legacy network services. BSNL is expected to launch 4G by the second half of 2023. Around the time BSNL finally launched 4G using homegrown technology, the private telcos would have reached most parts of the country with their 5G networks.
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The parliamentary panel had recommended that BSNL should be allocated 5G in all the bands. However, the telecom department has not yet replied to the recommendation. According to a PTI report, the committee feels that it is important that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) take necessary measures that would help with the successful roll-out of 4G services. Because BSNL was denied a level playing field, the state-run telco has not been able to roll out 4G.
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To provide a level playing field as with the private telcos, the committee said that it still recommends that BSNL should get 5G spectrum in all the bands. The committee also expressed its concern about the fact that there has been no major development or headway achieved till now with regard to the monetisation of assets of BSNL and MTNL.
The government is looking to monetise the assets of BSNL so that the proceeds can be used to repay loans, bonds and overdrafts. But there have been no concrete results so far. If BSNL fails to launch 4G in the near future, its prospects to be a successful telecom operator, in the long run, will be over.