India mulls 4G boost for state operators - Mobile World Live

India mulls 4G boost for state operators

21 MAY 2018

State-run MTNL, the smallest player in India’s crowded mobile market, plans to invest INR1.9 billion ($27.9 million) to upgrade its mobile network and could be given a lifeline by the telecoms department in the form of critical 4G spectrum, The Economic Times (ET) reported.

Department of Telecommunications (DoT) minister Manoj Sinha said it is “seriously considering” allocating 4G spectrum to the financially troubled operator, which only offers services in New Delhi and Mumbai and has less than a 1 per cent market share by subscribers. The 4G spectrum offer would also be extended to BSNL, which serves the country’s other 20 service areas and is also state-run.

ET quoted Sinha as saying: “Now we are attempting to make its services better, and after a long time MTNL is investing money in improving its network and services. I feel they will roll out something in the next three to four months.”

Sinha said both BSNL and MTNL face a spectrum handicap, “so we are seriously considering how to provide them 4G spectrum so that they can become a viable and a major player in telecom sector”, ET reported.

In July 2017, BSNL chairman Anupam Shrivastava said he expected the government to 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, had in June asked the DoT to allocate 5MHz of 700MHz spectrum in exchange for an equity infusion.

Neither operator participated in the country’s 4G spectrum auction in October 2016.

GSMA Intelligence data for Q1 showed BSNL had nearly 110 million mobile connections, 81 per cent of which were 2G, while MTNL had 3.6 million connections, split almost evenly between 3G and 2G.

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Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

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