India’s state-owned operator BSNL is expecting its request for 4G-ready 700MHz spectrum to be granted imminently, according to its chairman Anupam Shrivastava.
In June, BSNL requested that the Department of Telecoms provide it with 5MHz of 700MHz spectrum, for which it would receive an equity infusion. BSNL did not bid in India’s 2016 4G spectrum auction, in which 60% of the available airwaves went unsold due to overly high reserve prices. This included all available spectrum in the highly desirable 700MHz band.
BSNL is India’s fifth largest operator with 103 million connections giving it a 9% market share. Of its subscriber base, just 17% are 3G subscribers, and it has thus far not deployed a 4G service. In March, BSNL announced a plan to replace or upgrade all of its existing 2G sites with 28,000 3G base stations, which it will begin deploying once it has assessed bids from three vendors.
Shrivastava also revealed that BSNL was planning to forge an information-sharing alliance with Chinese vendor ZTE to expedite the development of 5G technology. The vendor has a similar arrangement in place with Nokia.