What BSNL Can Do With CDMA 800MHz Spectrum

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State owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd which runs a CDMA network country-wide alongwith much used GSM /3G network is planning to hire a consultant firm to take suggestions on What to do for its CDMA network?

According to industry sources, BSNL is on the way to explore the options to utilize Pan India CDMA network on 800MHz band. But Chairman and Managing Director or BSNL, RK Upadhyaya confirms that the company has no plan to close CDMA services and it will continue with CDMA and EVDO services.

Currently BSNL has only 4.8 million CDMA customers compared to 93 million GSM / 3G customers and running CDMA business with low profile specially in rural and remote area with voice services but EVDO coverage is quite inadequate compared to other CDMA players like MTS India, RCom and TTSL. For private dual technology players like Reliance Communications (Rcom) and Tata Teleservices (TTL) are pushing GSM /3G instead of CDMA and both are intending to use CDMA network for data only in coming days.

Even another state-owned player Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) has decided not to invest in its  CDMA network whcih has CDMA spectrum and license with limited mobility in Mumbai and Delhi (MTNL has some license issues to upgrade to EVDO and offer data roaming, but offers Unlimited 1X data usage for Rs.75/month - cheapest in the industry) MTNL is India's first 3G mobile service provider and pushing 3G - GSM Mobile services only.

But for BSNL CDMA network is very important, mainly for two reason - their 3G-GSM (UMTS/WCDMA/HSPA) network is quite poor in tems of bandwidth coverage on 2100MHz band. But BSNL EVDO network on 800MHz offers more coverage. Secondly BSNL already plans to return WiMAX spectrum and thus EVDO and 3G will be the only way to provide wireless broadband.

1. Aggressive EVDO coverage expansion with ZTE

Though BSNL has quite good coverage in the metro and urban areas, on sub-urban areas especially tier II and III cities BSNL has less than 20% EVDO coverage, where private players have coverages.

As now BSNL entered into equipment supply agreement with ZTE, which is one of the world's top CDMA supplier, BSNL should take care of EVDO expansion via ZTE.

2. Investing on EVDO Rev B network

Instead of investing EVDO rev A (3.1 Mbps downlink), BSNL must go for EVDO Rev B technology, preferably Rev B Phase II (supports upto 4.9Mbps per 1.25MHz channel).

3. Starting trials of LTE on 800MHz band on 1.4MHz channels

LTE can be deployed in channel widths as small as 1.4 megahertz, and in low spectrum bandwidth, for example, LTE’s very high spectral efficiency and edge of cell performance means that even in a 1.4 MHz channel LTE provides close to the average sector throughput performance of an HSPA 5 MHz carrier. NTT Docomo has already started some trials on LTE over 1.4MHz channels. BSNL can either do their own trials or wait for global LTE roll out on this way.

4. On voice & text front BSNL can offer all voice and text (in home & roaming to any network in India) rate at flat 30 paisa per minute, similar to MTS's recent offerings. With such offer and a bit good promotion BSNL can grab some new CDMA voice customers. Also BSNL can tie up with ZTE for bundled CDMA smartphones and tablets.

BSNL currently offers cheapest Unlimited Wireless Broadband over EVDO - Rs 750/month. With rapid expansion of EVDO network, BSNL can not only compete with 3G/EVDO players but also win the game.

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