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BSNL 4G Service May Start Earlier Than Expected as DoT Plans To Approach Union Cabinet for Early Allocation

MTNL and BSNL had been wanting to acquire 4G airwaves for a while. Recently, the DoT (Department of Telecommunications) accepted the state-owned telecommunication operators proposal. DoT will now be approaching the Union Cabinet in a couple of months for the same. The Union Cabinet will be the one assigning the 4G spectrum to both the telcos. It is expected that the approval will be granted by the end of 2018.

The Cabinet Approval Procedure

As per the latest information, the draft of the Cabinet note will be completed by mid-October. It’ll then be floated for consultation among the ministries. Sources say that then a revised Cabinet note will be drafted. PTI reported that the Cabinet will be approached by DoT sometime in November with the revised Cabinet note.

4G Proposal by BSNL and MTNL

BSNL has already furnished the government with a detailed report on 4G services. The report provides details on the state-owned PSUs plans to seek the 4G spectrum in exchange for equity. Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Communications, Manoj Sinha had informed the Parliament earlier about BSNL wanting equity infusion of Rs.6,652 crores from the government. The capital would be used by BSNL to fund its purchase of spectrum that costs somewhere around Rs.13,885 crores.

Chairman and Managing Director BSNL, Anupam Shrivastava had in a chat with PTI, and disclosed the company’s spectrum purchase plan. The telco was looking to acquire 2100MHz band across the country except for Rajasthan where the 800MHz is sufficient enough. Chairman and MD, public sector telecom operator MTNL, P. K. Purwar asked the government to allocate them the 4G spectrum in exchange of Rs. 6,500-Rs. 7,000 crores worth of equity. The company also requested an extension of its mobile license expiring next year, till 2021.

In mid-September Sinha had accepted that MTNL and BSNL are operating on 3G network in a market that migrated to 4G speeds a long time ago. He confessed that the state-owned telcos are facing difficulties surviving without 4G spectrum. But he assured that the government is working towards rectifying the situation. Strategies are being devised to settle the issues that cropped up because of many decisions are taken by the Apex Court.

Sinha promised that he will try his level best to get the two government-owned telcos 4G spectrum before the end of 2018. He insisted that he will ensure the government decides on the allocation soon and to not let the issue getting stretched until next year. BSNL, as we all know, has a countrywide network except for in Mumbai and Delhi which fall under MTNL’s operating circles.

Expectations from BSNL 4G Services

BSNL was planning to launch its 4G services in 2014. But the telecom operator didn’t get the necessary 4G spectrum allocated by the government. This resulted in BSNL losing out on offering 4G services to its subscribers when private telcos were busy migrating their users to the high-speed internet services.

The delay has been considered for the government to have realized the loss the state-owned telco has suffered because of this hold-up. With the competition in the telecom space growing fiercer by the day, providing services on-time will be a key factor in staying above the danger-line.

 In preparation of the launch of its 4G services as early as next year, BSNL has begun distribution of 4G enabled SIMs in some areas. This would allow its subscribers to be ready once the telco introduces 4G in the market. Even without 4G services on offer, BSNL has managed to build quite an impressive customer base within the last two years. With the launch of 4G services now imminent, the user base for BSNL is expected to grow even more. – My Smart Price
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