State-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has revealed that it plans to launch 3G services in approximately 700 cities across the northern and eastern regions of India by June 2009, with further expansion in the south of the country to be completed by the following month. The Economic Times, citing comments from BSNL deputy director general S S Siroi, reports that the circles of East and West Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam will see UMTS service launches, with expansion set to reach Kolkata next month. The operator has estimated it will spend INR27 billion (USD526 million) on the new infrastructure. Fellow state-run operator Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) meanwhile will reportedly soft-launch its 3G network in Mumbai by the end of April 2009, having announced a commercial launch in Delhi last month.
In separate but related news, the Financial Express is reporting that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has called for both BSNL and MTNL to halt their 3G services following directions from the country’s Intelligence Bureau (IB). The IB contends that necessary call monitoring facilities have not been put in place for the new services. Officials at BSNL however state that it has followed all required security processes and would continue to provide 3G services. Additionally, according to Telecom Tiger an MTNL official said that the onus for deploying compatible monitoring systems is on the IB, and as such said it cannot be held responsible.