Anupam Shrivastava, chairman of Indian state-owned telecoms operator BSNL, expects the government to soon approve its request for 700MHz spectrum for the launch of 4G service.

The operator, the country’s fifth largest with nearly a 9 per cent market share, asked the Department of Telecoms in June to allocate it 5MHz of 700MHz spectrum in exchange for an equity infusion, The Economic Times (ET) reported.

It didn’t participate in the country’s 4G spectrum auction last year, which ended with 60 per cent of the available spectrum unsold, including the highly efficient 700MHz band due to its high reserve price.

BSNL has 103 million mobile connections, with 3G customers accounting for just 17 per cent of the total, according to GSMA Intelligence. It has not rolled out 4G service.

The operator said in March it plans to install 28,000 3G base stations across the country to replace all 2G sites, and was evaluating bids from three vendors.

According to ET, Shrivastava said it also plans to enter into an alliance with China-based telecoms equipment maker ZTE to exchange information on 5G developments.

The move follows the announcement of a similar deal with Nokia.