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Official Apathy Leaves BSNL Customers Sans 4G Access

The Dakshina Kannada BSNL network for Mangaluru city is 4G ready, but officials are not. All it requires is 15 minutes to switch over from 3G to 4G, but officials have been reluctant to flip the switch.

BSNL officials here have been pushing deadlines for 4G services in a manner that customers are facing a situation similar to the Pumpwell flyover issue, with deadlines being extended four times for 4G rollout by BSNL. The last deadline to be missed was on January 5. Interestingly, the service is already up and running in 13 towers from Ucchila in Udupi district to Mukka near Surathkal, about 24 km from here.

Sources said that 151 towers in the Mangaluru area have were converted to 4G technology a fortnight ago, but officials at the helm of affairs are reluctant to switch on the services for some inexplicable reason.

BSNL has already reformed the 2,100MHz spectrum band, used for 3G, to strengthen its 4G network. The telecom operator is deploying L900 technology in the 2,100MHz band to complement its 4G services. When activated, 4G services would be seamlessly available from Uchila till Nethravathi Bridge in Mangaluru, for a distance of about 50 km and till Farangipete on the Mangaluru-Bengaluru National Highway. Beyond 4G connectivity, the services would automatically switch over to 3G services when the customers move out of the 4G range. Rollout of the service in the district is expected by April 2020.

BSNL Dakshina Kannada general manager G R Ravi admitted the 4G network was in place, and that they were waiting for all subscribers to change their 3G sim cards to 4G sims. When asked, isn’t it a tall order considering that BSNL has been repeatedly announcing customers to get their sims changed since August last year, Ravi said they will take a decision on the rollout soon as permission from the main office was received. “We will decide on a date soon and inform our subscribers,’’ he said.

But officials involved with 4G conversion are fuming since the network is ready, and what needs to be is just a switch over, which hardly takes 15 minutes. “When a telecom major changed from 3G to 4G a few years back, it did not even have 20% of the subscriber base change their sims to 4G. What are we waiting for? These kind of ham-handed decisions are hurting BSNL’s prospects,’’ said the source, who is closely working on the technology conversion. Once 4G services are available, customers who do not get 3G services will automatically change their sim cards, said an official, adding that sim cards were given for free in case the customer presented the old 3G sim, which would otherwise cost Rs 50. As on January 5, the 3G sim conversion to 4G was at 35% in Mangaluru and 37% in the areas from Uchila to Mukka.―Times of India

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