BSNL boosting infra for 4G rollout amidst closure rumours

Amidst rumours about the closure Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), the state-run telecom service provider is beefing up infrastructure for deployment of 4G services, to begin with the Kolkata and West Bengal circles.

The two telecom circles of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) in West Bengal, expecting to get 4G spectrum shortly, have been “actively” creating requisite infrastructure to roll out high-speed data services in the next 2-3 months, officials said.
Dismissing rumours about the state-owned operator’s closure, heads of both Calcutta Telephones that looks after the Kolkata circle and the West Bengal telecom circle said deployment of 4G equipment is progressing at a rapid pace.
“We have started deploying 4G equipment actively. Due to technical reasons, we cannot deploy equipment on a mass scale in large cities unless the spectrum is ready with us. But we have begun with 100 BTS (base transceiver stations),” PTI quoted Calcutta Telephones CGM Biswajit Paul as saying.
Paul said the testing had been carried out outside the city and the installation of 4G equipment would be “laid aggressively after the allotment of the spectrum, adding that to cover the Kolkata circle, 4G-enabled 1600 BTS would be required.
BSNL West Bengal circle CGM Ramakant Sharma said it has already launched 4G services in Sikkim and will be able to roll out the same across West Bengal in the next two months after the allocation of 4G spectrum by the government.
Officials said the state-owned operator will offer seamless switchover from 3G to 4G without affecting services.
BSNL’s Bengal circle will be covered by 2,000 BTS under 4G, of which 1,200 BTS is ready, Sharma said, adding that work was under way to erect the remaining stations.
The number of mobile connections in this circle during the first six months of the current fiscal grew by 189 per cent, he said.
BSNL officials are bullish on subscriber growth after Reliance Jio’s announcement to levy 6 paisa per minute for voice calls made to its rival mobile phone networks, Sharma added.
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has been going through hard times financially, mainly because of its inability to offer extensive 4G services. While the other private telecom companies have rolled out 4G network which spans the country, the government-owned BSNL telco has a sparse 4G network which has not been able to cater to its subscriber base. However, even with the allocation of the 4G spectrum, the operator will have a hard time switching to 4G.
BSNL is currently on the path of deploying 8,500 eNode-Bs [4G sites] across India (except Mumbai and Delhi where MTNL is operating). But, unlike other operators that are rolling out the 4G network at a fast pace, BSNL is refarming its 3G spectrum into the 4G network. For lack of 4G spectrum, BSNL is choosing its 4G sites selectively, meaning that it is going for 4G deployment in the areas where there is minimal 3G use or where there is more potential for 3G to 4G migration.
Meanwhile, in the Maharashtra circle, BSNL has made available 4G services across 13 districts with 1100 4G towers mainly in Marathwada and Vidarbha region. These regions include Bhandara, Gondia, Yeotmal, Akola, Washim, Nanded, Jalna, Buldhana, Latur, Parbhani, Hingoli, Beed and Osmanabad. In these areas, the 4G services were launched between October 2018 and March 2019. In Maharashtra, currently, more than 100,000 customers are actively using the 4G services, and their experience data throughput is more than 10-15 Mbps.
Also, in the West and North zones, BSNL has launched the VoLTE services with about 30 handset models already under testing. These brands include Xiomi, Nokia, Sony, Vivo etc. Other handset manufacturers are currently testing and would be launching progressively. VoLTE launch in South Zone and East Zone are expected very soon.
In order to promote its 4G services, BSNL has also launched promotional offers exclusively applicable to the 4G launch districts of Maharashtra providing an industry best 10 GB daily data for 28 days at just Rs96 and the same is given for or 84 days for Rs236. Also, as a special case scenario, these STVs of 96/236 have also been enabled for the 3G enabled Kalyana SSA where the BSNL 3G network has been revamped in the last one year by having about 262 3G towers in the SSA.
It is worth noting that BSNL is expecting to get a separate 4G spectrum in the same 2100 Mhz band in which it is currently operating 3G services. This will enable BSNL to concurrently offer 3G and 4G services across its territory on a Pan India basis.