BSNL had invited an Expression of Interest (EoI) on January 1, 2021, for prior registration/Proof of Concept (PoC) from Indian companies interested in participating in its upcoming 4G tender, he said.
“BSNL will follow the applicable Rules/guidelines/Public Procurement orders of the Government, including Rule 144(xi) of the General Financial Rules, 2017 in this regard,” he added.
BSNL expects the rollout of 4G services to be completed in 18 to 24 months, Dhotre informed.
The government had approved the revival plan for BSNL in 2019, which includes an administrative allotment of spectrum for 4G services through budgetary allocation to the company.
To another question, Dhotre said the telecom department, at present, has no plan to frame legislation to regulate internet shutdown in the country.
However, in order to streamline the process of internet shutdowns in the country, the DoT had notified ‘Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017’ in August 2017, under a section of the Indian Telegraph Act.
“Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency and Public Safety) Rules, 2017 has been amended vide Gazette Notification dated 10.11.2020,” Dhotre added.
Replying to another question pertaining to a temporary suspension of telecom services, Dhotre said the amendment has been forwarded to all chief secretaries/administrators of states and Union Territories, emphasising that the Supreme Court has mandated the publication of suspension orders, and all orders for suspension of telecom services must adhere to the principle of proportionality and must not extend beyond the necessary duration.
Acknowledging the role of internet in education, financial transactions, business, and overall economic well-being of the society, the minister said, “but the fact cannot be denied that the social media platforms operating on internet are also being used by terrorists/anti-social elements to disseminate hate and violence thus disturbing the social harmony”.
On whether the government proposes to do away with the 2G mobile communications system in the country in the wake of technological advancements and the introduction of 5G, Dhotre replied in negative.
“The licensed telecom service providers in the country are using diverse cellular mobile technologies viz., 2G, 3G, 4G and their combinations to provide voice and data services,” he said, adding that the choice of technology for provision of telecom services are left to operators.