Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), the state-run telecom operator, is all set to launch the 4G network services in January 2023. The telco has reportedly completed Proof-of-Concept (PoC) trials with the TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) led consortium. TCS is already confident about the opportunities that this deal with BSNL is going to open for the company in the global market, which is dominated by names such as Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei. According to an FE report, the trials for 4G PoC were completed by BSNL in Chandigarh in the last week of October 2022. A government official told the publication that now it will be decided where the 4G services will be rolled out using the indigenous technology stack.
Pricing and Commercial Terms are Yet to be Finalised Between TCS and BSNL
BSNL and TCS are yet to finalise the pricing and commercial terms. BSNL is looking to deploy the indigenous 4G technology stack in over 100,000 sites in India. While this will happen in a phased manner, the telco and the IT major need to come to an agreement on the commercial terms of the deal. Earlier, there were reports that BSNL wasn't happy with the cost estimates projected by TCS for the upgradation of 3G sites to 4G.
While it looks like BSNL would mostly stick with the Tata Group companies to get the work done, just how it will be done is something we will have to wait and watch. BSNL is not going to be able to launch 5G NSA (non-standalone) if it doesn't upgrade to 4G networks fast. TCS and C-DoT have designed the indigenous 4G stack, and Tejas Networks will be the supplier of the equipment in the deal.
Earlier this year, BSNL received a Rs 1.64 lakh crore revival package. That covered the capex that would be required to roll out 4G, along with paying off dues and reducing debt from the balance sheet. If things go well and a commercial agreement is signed soon, BSNL can roll out indigenous 4G as soon as January 2023.