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BSNL, MTNL to get 5G spectrum sans auction: Government

BSNL, which offers mobile, landline and broadband services across India (except Delhi and Mumbai where MTNL operates) is yet to announce 2017-18 financial results. Photo: Hemant Mishra/MintPremium
BSNL, which offers mobile, landline and broadband services across India (except Delhi and Mumbai where MTNL operates) is yet to announce 2017-18 financial results. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

  • As part of the Rs69,000 crore revival plan of MTNL and BSNL announced in October 2019, the government will bear the cost of spectrum for the latter’s 4G roll out, among other measures aimed at turning around the two money-losing firms

The government will allocate spectrum to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) on an administrative basis or without an auction for fifth-generation or 5G (fifth-generation) wireless service, the same way it has proposed to allot 4G airwaves to the two state-run telecom firms, said electronics, information technology and communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

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“Government also approved to administratively allot spectrum for providing 5G services to BSNL/MTNL, spectrum for maintaining current operations and future services on the same principle as proposed for allotment of spectrum for 4G services," the minister informed the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

While India is preparing for the launch of 5G services either later this year or in early 2022, BSNL is yet to roll out 4G.

As part of the 69,000 crore revival plan of MTNL and BSNL announced in October 2019, the government will bear the cost of spectrum for the latter’s 4G roll-out, among other measures aimed at turning around the two money-losing firms.

Prasad said the government has infused 24,084 crore for BSNL’s 4G spectrum in fiscal 2021-22. BSNL invited expressions of interest (EoIs) on 1 January for prior registration or proof of concept from Indian telecom equipment manufacturers to participate in its upcoming 4G tender, he added.

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