Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) on Wednesday cancelled its 4G tender that the operator issued in March. The tender required the vendors to deal with the “planning, engineering, supply, installation, testing, commissioning & annual maintenance of 4G mobile network.” BSNL estimated that the winners of the tender would deal with 50,000 sites of BSNL across India and 7000 sites of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) in Delhi and Mumbai circles. Following multiple delays, BSNL had estimated that the tenders would be opened in late June.
BSNL Cancels 4G Tender Following DoT Directions
However, the escalated confrontation between the Chinese soldiers and Indian soldiers in mid June had resulted in the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) placing restrictions on BSNL from sourcing telecom gear from Chinese vendors. Additionally, Niti Aayog, the Indian government’s policy think tank is said to have suggested BSNL to go for indigenously designed, developed and manufactured products for its 4G network.
BSNL in late June highlighted that the tender is “postponed” to mid July before setting a new tentative date of August 18 for the opening of the tender.
The DoT on June 22 set up a committee “for recommending technical specifications” for BSNL 4G tender. The committee consists of the chairperson of DoT along with its director general and representatives from BSNL and MTNL. The DoT said that the committee will “examine” and “help BSNL” in refining its 4G tender. Crucially, DoT said that the committee will come up with its recommendations in two weeks.
BSNLEU Says Private Lobby Succeeded
Following the cancellation of the BSNL 4G tender, the BSNL Employees Union (BSNLEU) said that the private lobby has succeeded in blocking BSNL 4G roll out.
“Vested interests have been trying for cancellation of BSNL’s 4G tender, on the plea that it has violated government’s “Make in India” policy,” BSNLEU said in a release. “Based on it, the government put BSNL’s 4G tender on hold. Ultimately it has been cancelled today. Once again, the private lobby has succeeded in blocking BSNL’s 4G network roll out, with the blessings of the Modi government.”
The BSNLEU have been vocal about the “vested interests” halting BSNL 4G roll out. Earlier, the BSNLEU on June 25 said in a release that the BSNL tender was put on hold due to a complaint raised by Telecom Equipments and Services Promotion Council (TEPC). It was said that the objection raised by TEPC was that BSNL is violating “Make in India” policy.
“When all the private operators are procuring world class 4G equipments from international vendors, why BSNL alone should be compelled to procure equipments from domestic vendors,” BSNLEU said in a release on June 25. “The Indian vendors do not have proven 4G technology. Hence, compelling BSNL to procure 4G equipments from the Indian vendors is nothing but denial of level playing ground to BSNL, vis-à-vis the private telecom service providers.”