Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), the state-controlled telecom carrier in India, plans to deploy 200 4G mobile towers every day after three months of field tests using an indigenously-developed stack. The company has already deployed 135 sites, and the rest will be operational soon, said an ET Telecom report quoting telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. BSNL's 4G equipment will be enhanced to 5G, requiring only a software upgrade. However, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has yet to seek a nod from the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) for the deployment of 1 lakh 4G sites by the state-controlled telecom carrier. Once the EGoM approves, the company will be able to release a purchase order (PO) to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a Mumbai-based firm belonging to the Tata group.
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BSNL expects to see a 20% increase in revenue after a full-fledged commercial launch of its next-generation services in 2023-24. The Indian government allocated Rs 52,937 crore to BSNL in the Union Budget 2023-24 to install new towers and upgrade technology to 4G and 5G. In July last year, the Union Cabinet approved a Rs 1.64 lakh crore revival package for BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) after a Rs 69,000 crore rescue plan in 2019.
Last year, BSNL tested its indigenous telecom stack setup for a 4G network for 10 million simultaneous phone calls. The ongoing live testing is based on real customers in a physical environment. The company plans to roll out next-generation-based telecom sites rapidly by August.
Private sector rivals, including Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, have already started rolling out their 5G networks in India. TCS and state-run ITI Limited submitted their bids to deploy BSNL's next-generation network across four zones countrywide, following the proof of concept (PoC) in Chandigarh and Gurugram. The Tata Group company proposed to supply core equipment within a year of receiving the purchase order (PO), while the supply of radio equipment is expected to be completed over a period of 18-24 months.