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BSNL to launch 4G in 14 circles with BWA spectrum: report

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State owned telco BSNL is planning to launch 4G services across 14 telecom circles where it has 20 Mhz of liberalised Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum under the 2500 Mhz band, reports Livemint. In January, the state run telco had rolled out a non-commercial soft launch of its 4G services in Chandigarh.

Currently BSNL is considering either a revenue sharing or a capex model for the 4G rollout. It also plans to install new 4G Base Transceiver Stations (BTSs) in the existing GSM sites, which means that the telco will not incur any expenditure in setting up new towers for 4G.

BWA spectrum auction: Note that BSNL did not participate in the June 2010 BWA spectrum auction, but the government allocated BWA spectrum across 20 circles to it. Under the allocation, BSNL had to pay Rs 8,313.80 crore for BWA spectrum in 20 different circles. BWA spectrum is used for providing broadband internet access using wireless standards; it can also be used in technologies including LTE and WiMax.

Recent developments from BSNL:
Private operators including Vodafone, Idea and Airtel have already made their 4G presence in the country while expanding to newer circles. This comes as a wake up call to BSNL, which has already geared up to introduce a number of initiatives to keep up with the market pace.

WiFi Hotspots: Today, BSNL said that it added 50 new WiFi hotspot locations in the country across 9 telecom circles. This comes under a planned introduction of public WiFi services that it announced in January

Modernization Drive: Last month, BSNL pledged a Rs 2000 crore investment for a modernization drive across India, while focusing on bettering its 3G service offerings.

ICR and spectrum sharing deals: In the same month, Ambani-owned telco Reliance Jio (RJIO) signed an Intra-Circle Roaming (ICR) deal with BSNL. The ICR deal will be applicable across 22 circles. Several other operators including Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel are reportedly in talks BSNL for spectrum and ICR deals.

Other operators providing 4G

Reliance Jio: After launching its 4G services for employees only on the 27th of December, Reliance Jio said that it would be launching its 4G offerings commercially starting March 2016, but as of now there are no official confirmations regarding the date.

Vodafone 4G: In February, Vodafone India completed the first phase of its planned 4G rollout under the 1800 MHz band with the launch of its services in Mumbai in February. Vodafone also launched its 4G network under the 1800 MHz band in early February in telecom circles: Delhi, NCR cities, Bangalore and Kolkata; as well as in Kerala circle Kochi in Dec 2015 & Kozhikode on Jan 2016.

Idea 4G: In December 2015, Telecom operator Idea launched its 4G services across 5 south Indian states; Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. The initial launch covered 75 towns including Mysore, Kochi, Vijayawada and Vishakhapatnam. On Friday, Idea said that it rolled out 4G mobile services in 575 towns across 10 circles comprising of 15 states.

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

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