State-run telco BSNL is set to receive 4G spectrum next month which will enable it to commercially roll out services from March, a senior official said Tuesday. Getting the fourth generation (4G) spectrum will help the telco offer faster data services to its over 100 million customers and also compete better with private sector rivals which are already offering the latest service.
“The ministry has already announced that BSNL will begiven the 4G spectrum and we will be getting it by October-end,” DK Agrawal, general manager for value-added services, said at a company event. When asked about the reports of equity infusion by government for the spectrum, he declined to share the specifics saying modalities are being worked out.
He said equipment ordering for the 4G network is already underway and the company will be able to commercially roll out services by March. BSNL is getting spectrum in the 2,100 MHz band, he said, adding it will get around 10 MHz of the radio waves. BSNL will be adding 50,000 more towers in the next few months to its existing network of over 1.3 lakh telecom masts.
Agrawal was speaking at an event where the state-run company announced a tie-up with the Anil Ambani-led Reliance group’s Internet of Things (IoT) company, Unlimit. BSNL will be offering its wireless network capabilities to subscribers as part of the tie-up on a non-exclusive basis.
Agrawal said BSNL is targeting to have 1 million connections through the partnership with Unlimit over the next one year. The Anil Ambani group firm, launched in 2016, already has 1 lakh devices connected and is hoping for more business as the IoT user base grows, chief executive Jurgen Hase said. He said connected vehicles, industry automation, transport and logistics are the focus area for the company.
Agrawal said people often question about the need to have 4G for IoT services and made it clear that network availability, more than speed, is essential for IoT. He said BSNL is also planning to address the IoT opportunity presented by the smart cities initiative through offerings like smart poles with lighting, public Wi-Fi, city surveillance, traffic management and also solid waste management.