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State-run BSNL set to launch 4G services soon

News Agencies | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 6:08 IST

State-owned BSNL is gearing up to launch 4G services in 14 telecom circles where it has 20MHz liberalised broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum.

The company, which has already soft-launched 4G services in Chandigarh, is exploring two methods - revenue sharing model and capex model - for the 4G rollout.

The company has 20MHz liberalised spectrum in 2,500MHz band which allows it to roll out 4G services without any licensing hurdles.

A senior official said BSNL will be installing 4G base tower stations (BTS) in the existing GSM sites, which means there will be no additional expenditure on towers.

Regarding the device ecosystem for 2,500MHz band, the official said sufficient number of 4G handsets makers like Apple, Motorola, Lenovo, Google, Nokia are already available in the market.

"By considering all the facts, it appears that launch of 4G services in 2,500Mhz band is feasible and commercially remunerative," he added.

However, the company is yet to finalise a timeline for the launch.

In January, the company demonstrated a speed of 35 Mbps during the soft launch in Chandigarh.

BSNL will be the latest entrant in the 4G space, which has seen action recently with top mobile operators including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular commencing services in various circles.

Additionally, Reliance Jio Infocomm is set to commercially launch 4G services soon, which will further intensify competition in the market.

Elaborating on the models for the 4G roll out, the official said that in the revenue share model, BSNL will be extending passive infrastructure and its BWA spectrum and other elements like BTS will be arranged by the vendor or franchisee.

"This model is best suited as BSNL will not incur expenditure and much of the investment required will be borne by the vendor. This can be initiated in all 14 service areas.

4G customers will be owned by BSNL and billing will be done by BSNL," the official said.

On the capex model, the official said procurement of essential LTE (long-term evolution) elements can be initiated in some select cities of one circle on experimental basis.

However, this model involves procurement and integration cost as well.

The company will explore both methods before taking a final call on the roll out.

BSNL had paid Rs 8,313.80 crores for 2,500MHz spectrum in all its service areas but but later returned airwaves in six of them which include Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kolkata.


First published: 4 April 2016, 11:23 IST