According to Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre, Union Minister of State for Communications, Education and Electronics and Information technology, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) expects the rollout of 4G services to be completed in 18-24 months.

The minister in a written reply to the Lok Sabha added that the government has no plan to privatise BSNL. There is no proposal is under consideration at present on the allocation of 5G spectrum to BSNL, he added.

The telco had invited an expression of interest (EoI) on January 1, 2021, for prior registration/proof of concept (PoC) from Indian companies interested in participating in its upcoming 4G tender, he said. Further, Dhotre said that BSNL will follow the applicable rules/guidelines/public procurement orders of the Government, including Rule 144(xi) of the General Financial Rules, 2017 in this regard.

Meanwhile, Dhotre said that, at present, government, has no plan under consideration to bail out private telcos that are under financial loss. Further, he added that while the government has not given any exemption to the operators on adjusted gross revenue (AGR) related dues, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), following a Cabinet nod, had filed an application seeking the permission of the Supreme Court (SC) to allow telcos to make the payment of the AGR dues in 20 years’ time (or less if they opt).  The DoT as well as operators are bound by the orders and direction of the SC, he added.

Further, the minister also said that, currently, the government has no plan to frame legislation to regulate internet shutdown in the country. However, in order to streamline the process of internet shutdowns in the country, the DoT had notified ‘Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017’ in August 2017, under a section of the Indian Telegraph Act.

On whether the government proposes to do away with the 2G mobile communications system in the country, Dhotre said that the licensed telecom service providers in the country are using diverse cellular mobile technologies viz., 2G, 3G, 4G and their combinations to provide voice and data services, he said, adding that the choice of technology for provision of telecom services are left to operators.