BSNL has approached the Department of Telecom (DoT) for airwaves in the premium band for rolling out 4G services. BSNL has suggested that through the equity route a 5 MHz block in the 700 MHz band is assigned to it by the government.
In the recently concluded spectrum auction, 700 MHz spectrum went unsold. This was India’s biggest spectrum auction but already debt-ridden telecom sector had ignored premium radio waves in the 700 MHz band — which was put up for sale for the first time — at a reserve or base price of INR 11,485 crore per MHz.
Industry bodies like GSMA have urged the Government to reconsider the pricing for 700 MHz band, which failed to find buyers due to its ‘unrealistically’ high pricing.
But BSNL CMD Anupam Shrivastava downplayed the concerns on pricing, saying that spectrum in the 700 MHz band would be an asset for the corporation, given its plans for 4G services.
700 MHz band considered as the most efficient band to provide 4G services in India. This reason made its base prices very competitive for the Telco’s, so they skip this band to avoid additional debt.
New entrant Reliance Jio is offering its 4G services in three bands 850 MHz, 1800MHz, and 2300 MHz having highest spectrum in 4G. Airtel was the first operator to provide 4G in India. Airtel, Idea, and Vodafone were already launched 4G at some places and in this auction, they have also won additional spectrum to provide 4G services. This made BSNL mandatory to start 4G services for the survival.
“We do not have the right kind of 4G spectrums which can give us coverage, although we have some 4G spectrum which can give us the capacity. But 700 MHz, if it comes, in combination with 2500 MHz band available with us, will put us in a position to roll out 4G services through the spectrum route across the country,” Shrivastava said.
He also said “700 MHz offered clear advantages such as ‘good coverage’ with lesser number of base stations. The 700 MHz spectrum can penetrate homes, so that leads to improved indoor coverage.”
Explaining the model being proposed by BSNL, he said the spectrum could be assigned, in lieu of Government raising its equity in the corporation.
“We are proposing that 700 MHz spectrum comes to us and in lieu of that, the paid-up equity of the government can increase to that extent in BSNL,” Shrivastava pointed out.
BSNL is a 100 per cent Government of India public sector undertaking that provides pan-India mobile, landline, and Broadband services except that in Delhi and Mumbai.