Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will upgrade about 1.35 lakh 4G towers to 5G in a span of five to seven months, telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said. The telecom operator has been largely unsuccessful in launching widespread 4G networks even after several years in India. The minister also said that BSNL is going to play a crucial role in enabling connectivity in rural areas, which are still not completely covered by the other telecom players.
According to a PTI report, Kotak Bank CEO, Uday Kotak asked Vaishnaw about the role of BSNL in the Indian telecom industry, to which the minister said that BSNL's 4G will be upgraded to 5G in about five to seven months and rolled out across 1.35 lakh telecom towers in the country. Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) is likely going to provide BSNL with the 5G core, which will enable the company to roll out 5G. C-DoT's indigenous 5G core was already demonstrated at the recently held India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2022.
BSNL has already asked Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to offer equipment for 5G testing so that it can go ahead with the 5G trials. Much like the 4G, Tata-owned Tejas Networks is expected to provide 5G equipment for BSNL's 5G.
Telecom Technology Development Fund to be Boosted
Vaishnaw said that there's a Telecom Technology Development Fund of Rs 500 crore. The government will be slowly looking to upgrade that to Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 crore per year. As per Vaishnaw, the technology fund would be available to the entire industry.
In related developments, BSNL has demanded the government to almost double the spectrum reserved for 5G. BSNL has also asked the government to include spectrum in the 700 MHz band for 5G, which only Reliance Jio has in India at the moment. It is worth noting that the government has already reserved airwaves in the 600 MHz band for BSNL's 5G rollout.