Indian state-owned telecoms operator BSNL plans to install 28,000 3G base stations across the country to replace all 2G sites and to roll out 4G service in select locations by the end of fiscal 2017-18.
BSNL, the country’s fifth largest mobile operator, announced an expansion programme to build out its 3G and 4G networks, which will be completed by end-March 2018, The Press Trust of India (PTI) reported. The company will refarm some 3G spectrum to launch 4G service later this year.
Anupam Shrivastava, BSNL’s chairman and MD, told PTI the operator is evaluating bids from three vendors and will name winners next month. He said Nokia came in with the lowest bid, followed by ZTE. It will split the equipment contract into two regions (west and south, and east and north) if the second lowest bidder meets the rate of the lowest bidder.
BSNL, with 97 million mobile connections in Q4, holds nearly a 9 per cent market share according to GSMA Intelligence. Its 2G subscribers account for 85 per cent of its user base, with just 27 per cent using smartphones.
The company reportedly is holding merger talks with the country’s smallest operator MTNL, another state-owned company with operations only in Delhi and Mumbai.