BSNL's long-awaited 4G services may not launch anytime soon as the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) might have to approach Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for finalising the 4G tender. Over the last few weeks, we are hearing news about the possible roadblock for finalising the BSNL 4G tender by the technical committee appointed by DoT. The committee is suggesting BSNL to use the local 4G gear for rolling out the services instead of global telecom gear vendors like Nokia or Ericsson. BSNL in the past had worked with Nokia and ZTE, but the participation of Chinese vendors in the Indian telecommunications industry going forward seems unlikely, so the telco might want to switch to either Nokia or Ericsson.
BSNL 4G Tender Reaches Finalisation Phase
The DoT-appointed technical committee headed by the principal scientific advisor, K VijayRaghavan earlier suggested that BSNL should use the locally made gear for deploying 4G network. It also stated the copyright for the source code of the software to be deployment should be owned by an Indian company. However, BSNL disagreed to these recommendations from the technical committee saying a 4G tender from a local vendor is around 90% costly than that of a global vendor. The telco also urged that having a separate core for 2G/3G & 4G services will hamper the quality of services and lead to higher costs.
Since the recommendations are already put in place by the technical committee, the DoT is now looking to approach PMO seeking an 'appropriate advice' on how to proceed forward, according to Financial Express. The delay in finalising the 4G tender means the service rollout will be delayed as well.
The DoT will now await for the reply back from the PMO because it cannot finalise the tender without advice from the government. The DoT is under pressure right now as the BSNL 4G tender finalisation is already running late. To recall, the first BSNL 4G tender draft was published back in March this year, but it was cancelled in July. If the DoT manages to draft the tender in the next couple of months, it might take another 4-6 months for the telco to procure all the requirements. That said, if DoT goes with the recommendations given by the technical committee, the telco might oppose the move and could likely go against the tender. The Union Cabinet approved the revival package for both BSNL and MTNL back at the end of 2019 as part of which the telco is planning to launch 4G services.