The Sanchar Nigam Executives’ Association (SNEA), an employees’ union of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), wants the operator to issue add-on purchase orders for upgrading its existing 2G and 3G services to 4G, rather than floating a new tender.


These purchase orders are the “need of the hour”, and should be issued to non-Chinese vendors. This would help in faster roll out of 4G services and result in savings of about ₹8,500 crore to the PSU, SNEA said in its letter addressed to BSNL Chairman and Managing Director, PK Purwar.

Further, BSNL should function as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) in circles where its network and infrastructure does not support 4G services, SNEA suggested.

Also read: BSNL, MTNL cancel 4G network upgradation tenders

Upgrading base transceiver systems

Apart from the add-on purchase orders for circles where 4G can be rolled out, the union has also sought issuance of purchase orders for upgrading existing base transceiver systems (BTSs) to support 4G services.

BSNL should use commercial spectrum it holds (2100 MHz and 2600 MHz) to offer 4G services immediately, said the lettersigned by SNEA General Secretary, Sebastin K.

Both Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) and BSNL do not have 4G spectrum, though BSNL provides 4G services using high-end BTS in certain circles. The service is now being provided using 3G spectrum, but the company needs 4G spectrum to provide high-speed 4G services in an area covered by a single BTS.

BSNL had first sought 4G spectrum in 2017 but is yet to be awarded.

Earlier, on July 1, BSNL and MTNL had cancelled the tenders floated on March 23 issued for the upgradation of 4G network as it did not support the government’s ‘Make in India’ policies. ALSO READ:

According to SNEA, BSNL management should also enter into intra-circle roaming pacts with private operators and become an MVNO to provide 4G services in circles where the network cannot be upgraded. This is also required to retain existing 3G customers, who need high-speed wireless connectivity.

An MVNO that does not own telecommunication infrastructure is generally a distributor of other telecom companies’ services.

5G roadmap

BSNL’s next priority should be building its own 5G network for which the company should curtail usage of 6.25 MHz spectrum in 900 MHz band for 2G services. A roadmap for building indigenous 5G ecosystem, utilising BSNL’s 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2600 MHz, should also considered, it added.