Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has been under huge scrutiny for not rolling out 4G even as we approach 2023. The private telecom operators have been shifting towards 5G while BSNL is still "trying" to launch 4G. It is almost comical and sad the way BSNL has gone out of relevance in the last few years. The state-run telco has been forced by the government to only use homegrown technology and equipment for rolling out 4G. This was not a norm that was enforced on the private telcos. What's worth noting here is that there were no experienced local Indian firms which could deliver the technology and equipment needed by BSNL right away. But, TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) has worked with BSNL to develop the relevant technology, and the Proof of Concept (PoC) for its 4G radios was also achieved.
BSNL Missed the August 15 Launch. Does this Mean it Would Also Miss Year End 4G Launch Promised Earlier?
BSNL is not known for doing things in a timely manner. The state-run telecom operator missed out on its promised 4G launch date of August 15, 2022. For the unaware, BSNL had promised to launch 4G in a wide manner by the end of this year. It included cities such as Pune for the 4G launch. But looking at the delays that have been happening, it wouldn't be surprising to see if BSNL misses out on the 4G launch later this year as well.
BSNL is reportedly not going to launch 4G this year. It has delayed its 4G launch to 2023 now because of equipment procurement issues. Things don't seem to be going right for BSNL at all. Even after the relief package, if there are so many delays, it would take BSNL at least the whole of 2024 or even some part of 2025 to offer PAN-India 4G coverage.
What's tricky here is that the intent of the Indian government is correct. It wants BSNL to use homegrown technology, which is a good thing for the country in the long run. But what it has actually done is created more roadblocks for BSNL to launch 4G. Ideally, if everything would have happened in the right manner, BSNL could have launched 4G even in 2020.
While there are some areas in India, even Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, where BSNL's 4G network is available, it isn't enough to give consumers confidence. A wide-scale 4G launch is required to show consumers that BSNL can be a good alternative to private telcos. Until that happens, nothing will go right for BSNL.