The government will administratively allocate spectrum to telecom public sector units BSNL and MTNL for 5G and future services, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed Parliament on Thursday. "The allocation of spectrum to BSNL and MTNL will be done on the same principle as proposed for allotment of spectrum for 4G services," said the minister.
"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," Prasad said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. 5G services are yet to start in India.
As part of the Rs 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 Rs 24,084 crore for BSNL’s 4G spectrum in fiscal 2021-22. He said BSNL had 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.
BSNL’s initiative to allow local equipment companies to bid for its 4G equipment after quality tests of their products will pave the way for domestic players, reducing India’s dependence on global firms.
The revival package included a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) to cut employee cost, asset monetization plan and issuing sovereign bonds worth Rs 15,000 crore to be serviced by the two companies.