BSNL employees’ union seeks Telecom Minister’s intervention

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on December 01, 2020

‘Delay in re-issuance of 2G spectrum is seriously affecting the operator’s GSM and 3G services’

The Sanchar Nigam Executives’ Association (SNEA), an employees’ union of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), has sought the Telecom Minister’s immediate intervention for renewal of its licence and allocation of 2G spectrum.

BSNL, which is struggling to retain its existing customer base, intends to use its legacy 2G network to provide 2G and 3G services till it gets the superior 4G spectrum.

In its letter addressed to Ravi Shankar Prasad, the union said that an “undue delay” in renewing BSNL’s Unified Access Service License (UASL) and re-issuance of 2G spectrum is seriously affecting the operator’s GSM and 3G services across the country.

Also Read: Despite 2G spectrum expiry, BSNL services unhindered

The State-owned telecom operator wants the Telecom Minister to direct the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to renew its pan-India Cellular Mobile Telephone Service (CMTS) licence and allocate 2G spectrum in 20 circles. DoT is also the administrative head of BSNL.

An inordinate delay in replacement of faulty core and Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment, including critical Base Transceiver Station (BTS) cards, is hindering the State-owned telecom company’s operations across the country. BSNL needs an import licence to bring in BTS cards and other equipment from foreign vendors, for which it needs permission from DoT’s Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing.

The union has also requested the minister to “give necessary directions” to WPC, sources privy to the development told BusinessLine.

Without a valid licence and spectrum, BSNL also finds it difficult to get clearance from the Standing Advisory Committee on Radio Frequency Allocation (SACFA) to install and commission additional BTSs, it said in the letter.

The validity of BSNL’s 2G spectrum and licence expired in February this year. The two State-run telecom companies, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) and BSNL, do not have 4G spectrum, though the latter provides 4G services using high-end BTSs in certain circles.

Also Read: BSNL union seeks add-on purchase orders for 4G rollout

According to SNEA, DoT is yet to approve BSNL’s request for renewal of license across 20 License Service Areas (LSAs), except in Mumbai and Delhi, which are serviced by MTNL.

The beleaguered telecom operator had applied for a licence on February 28, 2020.

Earlier in July, BSNL and MTNL cancelled tenders that were issued for the upgradation of 4G network across various circles.

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

Published on December 01, 2020

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