The fifth-generation or 5G telecom services have started in 50 towns distributed over 14 states/union territories as of November 26, Parliament was informed on Friday.
The Minister of State for Communications, Devusinh Chauhan, in a written reply in Rajya Sabha noted that telecom operators have started providing 5G services in the country from October 1, 2022.
“Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) have started providing 5G services in the country from 01.10.2022 onwards and as of 26.11.2022, 5G services have started in 50 towns distributed over 14 States/ Union Territories,” Chauhan said.
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The minister was responding to a question on several glitches in 5G services and poor network.
Further, he said that as per the bid document for the auction of access spectrum and license conditions, the minimum rollout obligations are required to be met over a period of five years in a phased manner from the date of allocation of spectrum.
The government has taken several policy initiatives to facilitate faster and smooth rollout of telecom network (including 5G) and expansion of telecommunication infrastructure in the country. These include making sufficient spectrum available for mobile services through auction, allowing spectrum sharing and trading among others.
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To another question, Chauhan said that Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) floated tender in October 2022 for its requirement of one lakh 4G sites.
“BSNL floated the Expression of Interest (EOI) on January 1, 2021 for the Proof of Concept (PoC). The PoC has been completed with few pending points. 5G Non Standalone Access (NSA) upgrade has also been kept as a deferred feature in BSNL’s EOI,” Chauhan said.
Moreover, the government has reserved spectrum for BSNL for providing 5G services, he said.
To a separate question on the losses of BSNL and MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd), the minister said that since inception, the total net loss of BSNL is Rs. 57,671 crore while that of MTNL is Rs. 14,989 crore as on March 31, 2022.
“The reasons for losses of BSNL and MTNL are high employee cost over the years, debt burden, stiff competition in the market and lack of 4G services (except on a limited basis in certain areas),” the minister said.
BSNL and MTNL have become EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation) positive since the financial year 2020-21, as a result of 2019 revival plan.
Further, with the implementation of Rs. 1.64 lakh crore revival package for BSNL, approved earlier this year, the state owned telco “is expected to turn-around and become a profit earning entity”.