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State run telecom operator BSNL has pledged a Rs 2000 crore investment for a modernization drive across India, while focusing on bettering its 3G service offerings, reports Trak.in. Almost 50-60% of the announced investment will be utilized for expanding and improving its 3G service, adds the report.

Under the drive BSNL will add around 21,000 Base Transceiver Station (BTS), which includes around 13,000 BTSs dedicated for 3G services in rural areas. While, the agency has already upgraded around 660 telephone exchange to the packet-based Next Generation Network (NGN) from the old circuit-based Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) technology. The NGN technology will be designed and manufactured locally by the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT).

BSNL will also add support for Fixed mobile telephony (FMT) or alternatively called Fixed-Mobile Convergence technology, which optimizes transmission of data, voice, and video communication among users, to improve coverage while moving. Additionally, it also announced a nationwide plan to deploy public Wi-Fi hotspots across important locations like tourist and religious spots, which it had started implementing in January with a plan to add 40,000 Wi-Fi hotpsots across the country.

Similar projects from private players

-In February, Vodafone said that it will invest Rs 6,000 crore in Maharashtra for capacity augmentation and new business initiatives in the state. Vodafone will also use the investment for setting up a data center in Airoli as well as a payments bank headquartered in Mumbai.

-In December last year, Bharti Airtel had launched Project Leap, through which it planned to invest Rs 60,000 crore in the next three years on network upgradation and modernization. This includes a ten point program that consists of deploying base stations, future proofing the network, expanding mobile broadband networks and reducing its carbon footprint.

Reliance Jio: It’s also worthy to note that Reliance Jio won a total of 71.05 MHz of spectrum for Rs 9936.13 crore, in last year’s Spectrum auction in March, wherein it was the only telco to win the crucial 800 MHz spectrum in Bihar, MP and UP (East) circles. By July 2015, it claimed to be present in all 29 states in India with a direct physical presence in nearly 18,000 cities and towns. Its 4G dowlink speeds were found to be mostly between 15-30 Mbps (even on the move), peaking at 70Mbps, in a Credit Suisse trial report.

Plight of BSNL’s broadband: Although the above initiatives seem interesting, BSNL still needs to work on bettering it broadband offering. It upped the broadband speeds from 512 kbps to 2 Mbps, but we had pointed out earlier about BSNL’s disappointing FUP limits. It places an 8GB data cap for 2Mbps connection (512Kbps beyond 8GB); a 6GB limit on a 1Mbps connection (512Kbps beyond); and a 150GB data pack with 2Mbps speeds at a whopping Rs 3,500/month.

Recent developments from BSNL:

-This month, BSNL said that it plans to install around 50 ‘zero-base’ multi-functional towers across the country; Zero-base towers can accommodate enough space to be used as Wi-Fi hotspot, a streetlight, and a surveillance utility by installing cameras and radios in it.

-In January, BSNL said that it is working on setting up 40,000 WiFi hotspots across the country to make up for the lack of its own 4G services.

-In December 2015, BSNL reduced mobile calling rates by up to 80% for the first two months for new users

-In September 2015, a MTNL and BSNL merger deal was set to be completed by December 2015; the deal never made it through.

-In August 2015, BSNL got a union cabinet nod to hive off its tower assets to form a separate company.

-In June 2015, Communication and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced that BSNL users would have free roaming on their mobile phones starting June 15.

Image Credit: Flickr user Garghe under CC BY-SA 2.0