Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has been trying to launch 4G for the last few years. In 2022, the state-run telco made orders for a total of 12,000 sites to be upgraded to 4G. The first issue of the purchase order was for 6000 sites on March 31, 2022. The second order was for another 6000 sites on July 25, 2022. Then in Oct 2022, BSNL floated a tender for the requirement of 1 lakh 4G sites. The government asked BSNL to source the equipment from Indian companies. That is what BSNL is exactly doing. The state-run telecom company is going to take the help of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to roll out 4G in India. Possibly, even for 5G, a TCS-led consortium, which includes Tejas Networks as well as the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT), would help.
In 2023, we can expect BSNL to launch both 4G and 5G. While 5G still feels like a distant dream, every development that has taken place in the last four to five months suggests that BSNL's 4G is very nearby. BSNL's 4G network services would bring new competition in the market, and the private telcos might face some extra competition because of the competitive tariffs from BSNL.
BSNL would be the first Indian telecom operator to launch 4G with homegrown equipment. Now while the purchase orders for 12000 sites from BSNL were issued, there wasn't anyone in the market with proven technology. However, now, the proof of concept (PoC) process is over, and TCS has the capability to help BSNL with the 4G rollout. Neither TCS nor BSNL has yet confirmed whether a commercial deal between both companies has been formed. This is the only thing that is left for now. BSNL would likely start with upgrading the 12,000 sites it has already issued the order for. Where are these 12000 sites is unknown.
BSNL's 4G launch is expected in early 2023. 5G could follow a few months later, as per the words of Ashwini Vaishnaw, union telecom minister of India.