Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has launched 4G services in pilot mode in parts of Punjab in a run-up to a formal rollout of 4G services. The company has started live testing of its 4G services with 135 tower sites using indigenous telecom stack. 

According to Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union Minister of Communications, Electronics and Information Technology and Railways, the deployment of the first 200 towers on the India telecom stack has already started. About 135 towers have been deployed and very soon the entire 200 towers will be fully operational. He added that real environment testing of 4G using indigenous stack is necessary and the government will go step by step to ensure that the system is proper before exporting. Once the pilot is completed on 200 sites, the company will then commercially roll out 4G services initially in three districts of Punjab — Ferozepur, Pathankot and Amritsar. 

Apart from this, Vaishnaw informed that the number of base transceiver stations (BTSs) in northeast India has increased five times, from 19,722 to 94,135 today. The states have also made strong progress in 5G rollout. He added that 3,437 5G BTSs have been deployed in northeast India. According to Vaishnaw, each citizen of India will have network connectivity with an Indian SIM soon. The government has approved to set up 25,000 new towers. The cumulative cost of the projects is close to Rs 360 billion. 

Further, commenting on the progress on the BharatNet project, Vaishnaw said that the number of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections have increased to almost 130,000 per month from 50,000 per month 5-6 months ago. For phase 3 of the BharatNet project, the government is not going ahead with the public-private partnership (PPP) model. As per Vaishnaw, the government is moving in the model which is now proven successful in which basically a village entrepreneur comes and does the last-mile connectivity, and BSNL provides the middle and the first mile.