"We estimate that 3G data rates can be reduced by at least 50 per cent compared to prevailing rates under phase 8 of our network expansion," BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastav said in an interview here.
    
The company at present offers 3G mobile internet at par with 2G rates of leading of telecom companies. It sells 1 GB of 3G mobile internet service for Rs 175 and 2GB for Rs 251.
    
"We have utilised over 90 per cent of 3G capacity. If we reduce tariff right now, there can be sudden increase in traffic and network may not be able to bear the load. Once we expand this capacity to handle adequate traffic under phase 8, we will reduce rates," Shrivastav said.
    
The company is at present working on phase 7 network expansion plan which has an outlay of about Rs 4,800 crore and is expected to be complete it by June this year.
     
The public sector firm has started working on phase 8 network expansion plan and expects to start issuing tender for this phase in the first quarter of financial year 2015-16.
     
The company was allocated 3G spectrum in 2009 but it has not been able to invest between 2009-13 in building network due to various procedural issues and mainly due to cash crunch that it faced after paying for two sets of airwaves- 3G and broadband wireless access spectrum in 2010.
 
Shrivastav said that to increase mobile internet traffic capacity BSNL is tuning its network for next generation internet ids known as IPv6 and adding more 3G capacity in its regional node centers.
     
Under phase 8, BSNL has plans to integrate wifi hotspots that it is rolling out in 2,500 cities and towns with 3G by end of next year to increase network capacity.
     
"We are integrating our 3G network and these wifi hotspots for offloading traffic from 3G network. To connect with wifi, BSNL subscriber would not require any kind of permission. The 3G subscriber will automatically connect with wifi hotspot once he is within the range and free 3G network," Shrivastav said.