Government-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has completed the surrender of 2G spectrum in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz in almost all circles of India. All telecom operators excluding Jio operate in 2G or GSM technology and have significant subscribers. Operators work in the 900 Mhz and 1800 Mhz for their 2G GSM mobile services.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has approved BSNL's request for surrender of spare or excess spectrum and instructed BSNL units to surrender their unutilised or under-utilised spectrum in 900MHz and 1800MHz bands latest by August 31, 2021, according to Kerala Telecom.
The report noted that BSNL will be holding a 1800MHz band for 2G services in four telecom circles including Kerala, Orissa, Chennai Telecom District and Tamilnadu circles after August 31, 2021, as it has a sufficient market share in all these 4 telecom circles. 2G spectrum in the 1800MHz band is essential to provide carpet coverage in cities where the population is relatively high.
In May 2019, BSNL surrendered the 1800MHz spectrum band from certain telecom circles including Bihar, Gujarat, Kolkata, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan to DoT. Out of the 22 telecom circles, BSNL surrendered certain carriers in 900MHz 2G spectrum in all the circles except Kerala. In the Kerala circle, BSNL will be holding the entire 6.2MHz band for 2G services.
Meanwhile, reports speculate a potential partnership between BSNL and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for the telco's wide rollout of 4G in the country. The Hindu Businessline quotes sources who said that TCS was "unanimously suggested" following its successful deployment of the network for core testing in Chandigarh.
Earlier this year in March, Sanjay Dhotre, Minister of State for Communications, in a written reply to the Lok Sabha said that BSNL had invited an Expression of Interest (EoI) on January 1, 2021, for prior registration or Proof of Concept (PoC) from Indian companies interested in participating in its upcoming 4G tender. He had also noted that the telco expects to finish 4G coverage in India within 18 to 24 months and the government has no plans to privatise the telco.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had allotted BSNL a fresh Pan India liberalised spectrum before the spectrum auction this year in March. BSNL, in January 2021, started providing 4G service in Bilaspur and Korba cities of Chhattisgarh. It is also giving free 4G SIM cards to users as a promotional offer. The free 4G SIM card scheme started with telecom circles in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the offer is valid till 31st March 2021.
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