Sandeep Joshi

To set up over 10,000 wireless towers for its CDMA network

Formal announcement by year-end

To share passive infrastructure

NEW DELHI: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is planning to offer its mobile telephone service on CDMA platform after the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) recently approved the use of dual technology (both GSM and CDMA) by a single operator.

In October this year, the DoT approved the use of alternative platforms by existing players to expand their mobile telecom networks. BSNL provides mobile services on the dominant GSM platform and uses CDMA only for limited wireless services. BSNL is not required to pay any additional fee to the Government, thanks to the new regulations where State-owned firms such as BSNL and MTNL have been exempted from paying additional fee for providing dual services.

BSNL, one of the leading mobile service providers across India with almost 3.5 crore GSM subscribers, now wants to make a pan-India foray into the fast growing CDMA market.

BSNL already provides fixed wireless and limited mobility service on the CDMA platform under the name Tarang and is now eyeing a bigger chunk of CDMA market.

According to sources in the BSNL, top company management is busy working out details about the new venture and a formal announcement is likely to be made by this year-end and the CDMA service launch after mid-2008. Apart from introducing cheap handsets and attractive tariff plans to lure new subscribers, BSNL is likely to set up over 10,000 wireless towers for its CDMA network within a year to provide seamless connectivity.

Moreover, its massive GSM infrastructure will give it additional leverage over other players.

Apart from the CDMA venture, BSNL is chalking out plans to share its passive infrastructure with private operators after Telecom Minister A. Raja urged operators to share their telecom infrastructure among themselves to cut costs and make services more affordable.

Official sources said BSNL had already invited an expression of interest from the tower companies and other interested parties for infrastructure sharing. BSNL which enjoys advantage over other players across India, particularly in small towns and villages, when it comes to telecom infrastructure, wants to leverage it and earn more revenue. BSNL has also planned expansion of its GSM tower network by 25,000 towers by the end of 2008.