Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has been having a financially hard time in the country, and the major reason behind this is the lack of an extensive 4G network with the state-led telecom operator. While the other private telecom companies have got a 4G network which spans the country, the government-owned BSNL telco has a sparse 4G network which has not been able to cater to its subscriber base. However, even with the allocation of the 4G spectrum on hold for the telco, the operator is striving hard to switch to 4G in as many as circles as possible with the refarming of the 3G spectrum. Now there are quite a few areas, where BSNL has already deployed the 4G network.
BSNL Refarming 3G Spectrum for Deploying 4G Network
BSNL is currently on the path of deploying 8500 number of eNode-Bs [4G sites] across India (except Mumbai and Delhi where MTNL is operating). With BSNL’s 4G rollout, there is one thing that we should note. Unlike the other operators who are rolling out the 4G network at an unprecedented rate, BSNL is unable to do the same because of the lack of a dedicated spectrum for the same. Because of this reason, BSNL is refarming its 3G spectrum into the 4G network. As such, BSNL has to discontinue its 3G services in the areas where it has to deploy 4G. For this purpose, BSNL is choosing its 4G sites selectively, meaning that it is going for 4G deployment in the areas where there is minimal 3G use or where there is more potential for 3G to 4G migration.
This means that in the areas where BSNL launches its 4G services, it will have to abandon its 3G services and the subscribers in that particular region will have to transition to a 4G SIM. That is why BSNL is offering the 4G SIM free of cost to its subscribers. As per the sources available on the issue, out of the 8500 4G enabled towers planned in the current project, the rollout has been completed to the extent of 7000 so far.
BSNL Gets to 100,000 4G Customers in Maharashtra
In the Maharashtra circle, 4G services are available across 13 districts with 1100 4G towers mainly in Marathwada and Vidarbha region. These regions include Bhandara, Gondia, Yeotmal, Akola, Washim, Nanded, Jalna, Buldhana, Latur, Parbhani, Hingoli, Beed and Osmanabad. In these areas, the 4G services were launched between October 2018 and March 2019. In Maharashtra, currently, more than 100,000 customers are actively using the 4G services, and their experience data throughput is more than 10-15 Mbps.
Also, in the West and North zones, BSNL has launched the VoLTE services with about 30 handset models already under testing. These brands include Xiomi, Nokia, Sony, Vivo etc. Other handset manufacturers are currently testing and would be launching progressively. VoLTE launch in South Zone and East Zone are expected very soon.
BSNL Rolls Out Special STV for 4G Users
In order to promote its 4G services, BSNL has also launched promotional offers exclusively applicable to the 4G launch districts of Maharashtra providing an industry best 10 GB daily data for 28 days at just Rs 96 and the same is given for or 84 days for Rs 236. Also, as a special case scenario, these STVs of 96/236 have also been enabled for the 3G enabled Kalyana SSA where the BSNL 3G network has been revamped in the last one year by having about 262 3G towers in the SSA.
It is worth noting that BSNL is expecting to get a separate 4G spectrum in the same 2100 Mhz band in which it is currently operating 3G services. This will enable BSNL to concurrently offer 3G and 4G services across its territory on a Pan India basis.