BSNL close to signing tower-sharing deal with Aircel

BSNL is getting ready to sign an intra-circle roaming (ICR) contract with Aircel, marking the first time the government-run telecom operator has made such a deal with another player. The entity is further testing out whether a tower-sharing partnership with Reliance Jio is viable.

BSNL CMD Anupam Shrivastava asserted that the company is very close to completing the pact with Aircel. As for Reliance Jio, he said there was no such arrangement with the brand as of now due to interoperability problems. The technologies which are used by the 2 are not compatible, meaning calls will not be able to go through its networks.

Mobile Tower

Reliance Jio majorly utilizes Samsung for its equipment, while BSNL makes do with multiple companies like Nokia, Alcatel, Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE. As per DNA, the 2 players are now conducting evaluations to test whether a tower-sharing arrangement is possible in the future. If followed through, the former can use the latter’s 2G and 3G bandwidth.

To recall, news of this Reliance – BSNL partnership hit headlines last year. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said the deal was unfair and other companies were not given the opportunity to ink an agreement as well. Shrivastava asserts the operator is open to ICR with all entities. Since it’s a state-run operation, there’s a fixed rate for all such deals.

Also See: BSNL to debut 4G services in Chandigarh

The CMD claims several telecom players had responded to its tariffs but had backed out later, Aircel being the only exception. BSNL currently owns approximately 70000 mobile towers across India. It’s looking to share these sites with other brands in order to increase its revenues. The network provider had seen its profits rise to Rs 670 crore in the previous fiscal.