Indian telecoms minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has confirmed that state operator BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) plans to upgrade its 4G technology stack to 5G within five to seven months.
The technology will be deployed across BSNL’s footprint of 135,000 towers nationwide. In an address at a CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) event, Vaishnaw noted that BSNL has a stronger rural presence than most other Indian operators and will be able to deliver coverage in remote regions that are not covered by other players. He claimed that this advantage would position BSNL as a major competitor in the telecoms sector.
TeleGeography notes that BSNL has delayed the deployment of its 4G network several times, and for a number of reasons. The operator has abandoned, modified and extended various equipment tenders in its attempts to deploy 4G, and has variously attributed these setbacks to political or security concerns, as well as technical or financial considerations.
As it prepares to launch 5G in 2023, BSNL has requested that India’s government increase its 5G spectrum holding to nearly twice its current size. At present, the state has allocated BSNL 10MHz of paired spectrum in the 600MHz band, 40MHz in the 3300MHz band and 400MHz in the 26GHz band. The operator has asked for an additional 10MHz of paired 700MHz spectrum, 30MHz of 3300MHz band airwaves, and 400MHz in the 26GHz band.