The validity of state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s (BSNL) 2G spectrum and licence expired in February this year, even as the beleaguered telecom company continues to provide uninterrupted services across 21 circles.

The firm is seeking extension of spectrum validity for another two years. Even though BSNL was awarded spectrum in 2000 for a 20-year period, it got government approvals for rolling out of services in 2002.

The immediate demand by employees, represented by various unions, is that validity of radio waves be extended at least till 4G services are launched.

“The government is looking at extending the validity of the services. The company is ready to buy spectrum at the same price and conditions, including a staggered payment for spectrum offered to other telecom companies,” a source close to the development told BusinessLine .

READ ALSO: BSNL, MTNL cancel 4G network upgradation tenders

The government had permitted private telecom companies to pay spectrum charges over a 16-year period. Of the 23 circles in the country, BSNL offers services in 21, while sister company Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) services the other two (Mumbai and Delhi).

BSNL, which has been using 900 MHz and 1800 MHz spectrum for 2G operations, is seeking the same frequency across all its 21 circles. It has also initiated discussions with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for renewal of 2G spectrum, while it uses the same radio waves to offer services.

4G rollout

BSNL unions are also planning to intensify their protest seeking faster rollout of 4G services, now more important as its 2G spectrum expired. The PSU had first sought 4G spectrum in 2017 but is yet to be awarded.

ALSO READ: BSNL union seeks add-on purchase orders for 4G rollout

Earlier in July, BSNL and MTNL had cancelled their tenders floated on March 23 for upgradation of 4G network across various circles, as they did not support the government’s ‘Make in India’ policies. The DoT has also suggested inviting tenders only from Indian companies for core network infrastructure.

ALSO READ: BSNL unions to protest against cancellation of 4G tender

BSNL unions earlier asked DoT to issue add-on purchase orders for upgrading existing 2G and 3G services to 4G, rather than floating a new tender.

The telecom operator is also expected to disperse August salary this week.

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