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Telecom department to seek approval from Cabinet for BSNL’s 4G rollout
TT Correspondent |  |  17 Sep 2018

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will soon seek approval from the Cabinet to facilitate the launch of fourth-generation (4G) of mobile services by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), a top official has said.

The state-run telco has asked Rs 6,652 crore as equity infusion from the government to help launch the newer technology-based services to take on private sector rivals such as Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel who have had a head start in rolling out 4G across India.

“BSNL has already asked for 4G services. We are soon moving a Cabinet note for the spectrum requirement of the telco,” telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan told ET.

In 2017, BSNL had submitted a detailed project report and in order to acquire spectrum worth about Rs 13,885 crore. The company sought Rs 6,652 crore as equity infusion from the government while it wanted to meet the remaining cost through revenue that it would generate in 16 annual instalments.

Once it get the Cabinet’s nod, the state-driven telco would be able to launch high-speed data or Long-Term Evolution (LTE) on the 2100 Mhz band, which it also uses to offer third-generation (3G) services.

BSNL also believes that rolling out 4G with an additional five units on the 2100 Mhz band could also help in airwaves utilization by offering spectrum contiguity.

The government, according to the top official, is also reviewing the revised scheme submitted by the loss-making Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) for revival.

“MTNL’s revised package is under examination currently,” Sundararajan said.

The state-owned service provider that operates only in Delhi and Mumbai metropolitans, has been asked to bring a revised plan for its revival and the telco has roped in Deloitte to chalk out strategy.

Sundararajan also said the National Digital Communication Policy (NDCP) 2018 is already under Cabinet consideration. “The NDCP-2018 recommendations are already with the Cabinet and we are expecting a go-ahead anytime soon.”

The new policy seeks to rationalise spectrum pricing and levies, a long-standing industry demand, which could bring some respite to an industry reeling under a debt of over Rs 7lakhcrore.

The national policy once approved would also facilitate a roadmap for attracting investment of close to Rs 7 lakh crore in the sector and could create 4 million new job opportunities.

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17 Sep 2018(IST)  
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