BSNL's EVDO service is 3G, says DoT

CIOL Bureau
New Update
NEW DELHI, INDIA: The Department of Telecom (DoT) today confirmed that the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited’s (BSNL) Evolution Data Optimized (EVDO) offering is third-generation (3G) service.

BSNL has been providing 2.4 Mbps (million bits per second) EVDO service in select locations in the country for more than a year, even before the government announced its policy for 3G spectrum allocation. The government made the announcement today.

While confirming that EVDO falls under the 3G, DoT Secretary and Chairman of the Telecom Commission Siddhartha Behura told CIOL that public sector units such as BSNL and Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Limited (MTNL) are incumbents and they needed government’s support and concession to take on big players.

Kuldeep Goyal, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of BSNL, however, refuted Behrua’s claim and said the EVDO service falls under the 2.5G category.

Experts, however, have a different opinion. "EVDO is certainly 3G, as it has been standardized by 3rd Generation Partnership Project 2 (3GPP2) as part of the CDMA2000 family of standards," according to Atul Chitnis, Senior Vice-President of Geodesic Information Systems Limited.

EVDO is one of the two major 3G standards for the wireless transmission of data through radio signals. The other standard is W-CDMA.

Experts also said that the 2.5G was invented only for marketing purposes, while the terms 2G and 3G are officially defined.

The Telecommunications Industry Association termed EVDO as "CDMA2000, High Rate Packet Data Air Interface."

"Some protocols, such as EDGE for GSM and CDMA2000 1x-RTT for CDMA, can qualify as '3G' services (because they have a data rate of above 144 kbit/s), but are considered by most to be 2.5G services (or 2.75G which sounds even more sophisticated) because they are several times slower than 'true' 3G services," a Wikipedia entry said.

"A 2.4 Mbps EVDO connection is certainly a 3G service," said Prasanto K Roy, Chief Editor at CyberMedia. "Even if it's hiding behind a 2.5G fig leaf for licensing convenience."

No undue advantage

The DoT chairman added that rolling out 3G service is a very tough process and will take considerable time, and a little head start would not be of undue advantage for these players.

BSNL and MTNL have got a head start over its rivals, as they need not participate in the 3G spectrum auction and can rollout its 3G services anytime they are ready.

Minister of State for Communication and IT Jyotiraditya M. Scindia disagreed with the view that state PSUs were getting a head start over others. “BSNL has to pay the same amount as the other bidders and hence doesn’t entail undue advantage.”

Both BSNL and MTNL have to pay the highest bidding price for the 3G spectrum, which is expected to be completed in another four months.

Earlier, Goyal said BSNL will rollout 3G services in Indian metros in another six months. “We will be inviting tenders for our eight-nine million lines soon and the final rollout will be in another six months,” Goyal told this correspondent.

According to the DoT guidelines, five operators can bid for 3G spectrum now and another five more in future, provided there is additional spectrum. The Department has allowed foreign players also to enter the fray.

Chairman and managing director of MTNL RSP Sinha, while welcoming the 3G policy said that his company will take close to four months to rollout the services in Delhi and a little later in Mumbai.

In Delhi and Mumbai, only three telecom operators can participate in the auction owing to scarcity of spectrum.

© CyberMedia News