BSNL gambles on 4G VoLTE as 5G trials stay “future-ready”

BSNL, the state-owned operator, is gambling on nationwide launch of 4G VoLTE services, even as it starts introductory work on 5G to remain ready for the future, a top administrator claimed to the media this week.

“We are seeking to roll out 4G VoLTE all over India and looking for spectrum from the officials,” Anupam Shrivastava, Managing Director and Chairman of BSNL, claimed to the media in an interview. In late 2016, the telecom company addressed to the DoT (Department of Telecom) to assign airwaves in the band of 700 MHz for launching 4G services. The firm anticipates to get the approval of government soon for utilizing airwaves in band of 700 MHz for providing 5G and 4G services in the coming period.


BSNL will be needed to match the price of the biggest bidder to obtain the spectrum although historically it is not needed to take part in the auction. On the other hand, given the big burden of debt on the telecom industry, the projected auction of spectrum in different bands may get postponed by almost a year. The telecom company is expected to report an income of Rs 28,700 Crore in 2016–2017, as compared to Rs 28,400 Crore of the last year in spite of stiff cost war from Reliance Jio.

Shrivastava claimed that balance sheet of BSNL is least leveraged with debt of only Rs 5,000 Crore and the firm is also planning for productivity at an average level in 2018–2019. He acknowledged that BSNL has been trailing but in the past couple of years, it is on a revitalization road as it inclines up its backbone for infrastructure. The firm has finalized Rs 6,000 Crore for installing 40,000 fresh base stations that will be implemented by ZTE and Nokia.

Nokia will carry out the work in the West and South areas while ZTE will carry out it in the East and North. Manoj Sinha, the telecom minister, had lately claimed that the nation was shifting to data-centric from voice-centric and anticipated that usage of data in India to shortly surpass the USA and China. BSNL had rolled out several spirited offers for data but was not able to provide free limitless voice. But with VoLTE, it will make such attempts promising, officials claimed to the media. Other private telecom giants such as Idea Cellular, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone are also busy in the VoLTE sector.

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