State-run telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) plans to launch high-speed fourth-generation (4G) services across six telecom circles, of the 20 circles where it operates. BSNL is in talks with various telecom companies, including Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL) and SSTL, for a strategic tie-up.
BSNL CMD Anupam Shrivastava told FE that they were open for a strategic tie-up for 4G operations and are in talks with various telecom companies in this regard. However, he did not name the telcos.
Telcos are eagerly awaiting announcement of the guidelines on spectrum sharing and trading, which is expected to be in place in a month or two.
Official sources said for BSNL, RJIL would be the first choice, as RJIL has already signed a pact with BSNL to lease out 4,000 of its mobile towers. It is the only telco that has 4G spectrum in 2300 MHz band across all 22 telecom circles. But, unlike RJIL, that plans to launch 4G services in few selected circles in next one or two months, BSNL is expected to start its 4G operations in six of its circles only by March 2016.
On the other hand, Russia’s SSTL, that operates in India under MTS, offers mobile services across nine circles. MTS has, however, denied any such plan.
BSNL has limited spectrum to offer full-fledged 4G services and would need at least 5 MHz for successfully rolling out 4G services and is looking to partner with other telco.
BSNL is currently overhauling its operations and upgrading its networks. It is also looking at convergence of its wireless and wire-line networks to provide high speed data 4G services. It has broadband spectrum in 16 telecom circles.
A senior BSNL official explained that BSNL may offer 4G service in around eight to nine telecom circles and would compensate it with a similar quality of network on Wi-Fi and 3G and to offer seamless connectivity.
BSNL is also integrating its network with 3G, 4G network so that customer can be seamlessly transferred to Wi-Fi.
BSNL is investing about Rs 7,000 crore in setting up Wi-Fi hotspots integrated with 3G, 4G networks across the country over the next two years.