State-owned BSNL, the fourth largest mobile operator in India, will receive 4G spectrum in the 2.1GHz band and plans to launch commercial service in March 2019, The Economic Times reported.
The government approved BSNL’s request for spectrum which it will receive by end-October, a Department of Telecommunications (DoT) representative said. The operator will install 50,000 additional towers in the next few months to take its total to 130,000, the newspaper reported.
In February BSNL awarded Nokia a contract to deploy 4G and VoLTE services in ten regions in western and southern India with more than 38 million subscribers.
Speaking in July 2017, BSNL chairman Anupam Shrivastava said he expected the government to approve its request for spectrum for the launch of 4G service. The operator, with nearly a 9 per cent market share, asked the DoT to allocate 5MHz of 700MHz spectrum in exchange for an equity infusion.
Neither BSNL or MTNL (also state run and the smallest player in India’s crowded mobile market) participated in the country’s 4G spectrum auction in October 2016.
GSMA Intelligence data for Q2 2018 showed BSNL had about 113 million mobile connections, 82 per cent of which were 2G.Subscribe to our daily newsletter