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BSNL’s telecom licence extended for 20 years

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on December 12, 2020

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has extended the validity of State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s (BSNL) Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) by another 20 years, enabling the telecom operator to continue offering services across the country.

The licence was granted with retrospective effect from February 29, 2020. Following the issuance of the licence, BSNL will be able to provide mobile (2G, 3G and 4G), fixed-line, satellite and other communication services, sources close to the development said.

Earlier on December 6, sources had told BusinessLine that the public service unit was expecting the government to extend its licence within a week of submitting a Performance Bank Guarantee (PBG) of ₹250 crore for the UASL.

BSNL had issued the PBG earlier this week, and as per expectations the order granting the extension was issued on Thursday, one of the sources said.

Under the licensing agreement, BSNL can also continue to provide National Long Distance, International Long Distance, very-small-aperture terminal (VSat) and the Public Mobile Radio Trunking Services services among others. The public sector unit had been using 900 MHz and 1800 MHz spectrum, and had sought the same bands across all its circles.

While the frequency allocated could not be immediately confirmed, sources said that BSNL is believed to have been given permission to use the same bands.

BSNL’s licence, which was awarded in 2000 for a 20-year period and got Government approvals for rolling out of services in 2002, had expired in February this year. While the operator continued to provided services without a licence, it was seeking an immediate extension of licence for another two years.

Demand for 4G

However, BSNL is yet to be allocated 4G spectrum, without which the PSU would find it difficult to offer quality services and retain high-value customers. The State-owned firm is already four years behind private operators in offering these services.

BSNL officials, who had a meeting with Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on November 27, are also slated to meet Home Minister Amit Shah to apprise him of the importance of 4G in the revival of the beleaguered telecom company.

Amit Shah is the head of a seven-member Group of Ministers constituted to fast-track and oversee the implementation of revival plans of both BSNL and MTNL.

Published on December 12, 2020

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