BSNL is expected to roll out the much-awaited 4G services in the first half of 2020. In line with the schedule, the state-run telco will soon invite bids from telecom gear makers like Nokia, Huawei, ZTE, Ericsson and so on for purchasing the 4G equipment which will be required in rolling out the fourth generation network services. As part of the revival package being given to BSNL and MTNL, the telcos will get 4G spectrum at the prices of 2016 auction. According to an ET Telecom report, BSNL will spend Rs 1,200 crore on 4G equipment over the next two years. Notably, BSNL will be the last major operator in the country to launch 4G services, but several subscribers of the telco are eagerly waiting to enjoy high-speed data like on the networks of Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio.
BSNL Will Allow Chinese Vendors to Participate in the Auction
At a time when several countries are banning the usage of telecom equipment from Chinese gear makers like Huawei and ZTE, BSNL says it will allow every vendor to participate in the auction. “We’ll be coming out with an open tender and allow all vendors to participate. No vendors will be excluded, and everybody will be free to participate,” said BSNL Chairman PK Purwar to ET Telecom.
He also confirmed the company would invest at least Rs 1,200 crore over the next two years on network equipment. 4G services launch from BSNL is long overdue as the telco has been promising its subscribers about the fourth-generation network services launch since 2014. To recall, the first 4G network was launched by Bharti Airtel back in April 2012.
BSNL Chairman also said the 4G services launch would happen in phases. Already, the telco has 4G services in several circles with Kerala being the major circle. In Kerala, BSNL already closed 3G services in the majority of the cities to offer just 2G and 3G services. It will be interesting to see whether BSNL brings back the 3G network as part of the official 4G network rollout in the circle.
Furthermore, he added that the telco is not looking to ban Chinese vendors from participating in the auction because there's no such directive from the government. “We have to follow the law of the land. As of date, no telecom equipment manufacturer has been barred irrespective of the place of origin,” Purwar said on asking about Huawei ban in various countries.
BSNL Looking to Deploy 50,000 New 4G Mobile Sites
BSNL already has some 4G network sites in various circles, but in the coming months, it's looking to deploy more than 50,000 new 4G sites to provide high-speed data services to the users. Right now, BSNL has nearly 70,000 mobile sites across the country and the new mobile sites will add to the list over the next two years. In addition, BSNL is said to launch the 4G services on the 2100 Mhz band spectrum in the licensed service areas. In Rajasthan, BSNL may launch 44 services on 800MHz frequency range. BSNL is yet to confirm the frequency range it will use for launching 4G services.
BSNL is currently the fourth largest telecom service provider in India after Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel. Starting next month, BSNL will increase the tariff prices following the footsteps of private telcos. Besides Reliance Jio, BSNL is the only telco that's adding subscribers every month since 2016.