State-run BSNL has urged the government to allocate it spectrum worth Rs 61,000 crore in the premium 700 Mhz frequency range as well as the medium frequency band for 4G and 5G services, according to sources.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) had proposed to reserve for BSNL 10 megahertz of paired spectrum — which means the same quantum of radiowaves for uplink and downlink — in 600 Mhz band; 40 Mhz in 3600-3670 Mhz band; and 400 Mhz in 24 Ghz band. It had sought views of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on the same.
However, BSNL in a letter to the DoT about a week back asked for allocation of 10 Mhz of spectrum in the 700 Mhz band because of lack of device ecosystem in the 600 Mhz frequency range.
Based on the base price recommended by Trai, the value of spectrum sought by BSNL in the 700 Mhz band comes to around Rs 39,000 crore.
It has also sought 70 Mhz of spectrum in 3,300 to 3670 Mhz band (the mid-band) worth Rs 22,190 crore, against the 40 Mhz proposed by DoT, as per the letter.
This mid-band is expected to play a key role in the rollout of 5G services in the country.
The 700 Mhz band is considered premium because it provides wide coverage of mobile signals and least number of telecom towers are required for setting up a network in this band compared to other frequencies allocated to the sector at present.
If the government reserves 70 Mhz of spectrum in the mid-band, then a total of 300 Mhz of spectrum will be left for players to bid for in the upcoming auction.
According to a government official, private telecom players are expected to buy 100 Mhz of spectrum in the mid-band, which can help them with high-speed 5G services, and it will be sufficient for them even if the government allocated 70 Mhz of spectrum to BSNL.