Security hurdle for BSNLs IT project

Written by Rachana Khanzode | Mumbai | Updated: Jun 24 2010, 03:47am hrs
The second phase of the Rs 880-crore contract given by the department of technology (DIT) to state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is yet to see the light of day, as the telecom operator is awaiting security clearance for the equipment from the department of telecommunications (DoT), a source close to the operator said.

BSNL had ordered 6,500 base transceiver stations (BTS) in December 2009 which are still awaiting clearance. The DIT contract was a 35-40% part funding of the larger broadband plan by BSNL, to enable wireless broadband across 6 lakh villages. The contract was intended to enable broadband connectivity to the 1,00,000 computer services centers (CSCs) across the 6 lakh villages and was expected to be completed by June 2010. However, a DIT official on condition of anonymity said that the department was now expecting the contract to be completed by January 2011.

For the DIT project, BSNL had earlier used 1,000 existing towers and 30,000 rural telephone exchanges to enhance connectivity. It later outsourced 4,000 towers, while connectivity through the remaining 2,800 towers are yet to be determined, said the source in DIT. The state-owned operator, which is betting big on Wimax broadband services, is also experiencing hiccups in its urban broadband rollout. The teleco has outsourced the roll-out for three circles to Soma Networks and given franchisee to Teracom, Ampules, Take Solutions and Adishwar-Alvarion in ten circles. While the firm itself is installing equipment in the Punjab and Kerala circles. However, it is yet to take a decision on allotting contracts (franchisee) for the remaining seven circles.

The revenue sharing agreement between the bidders and BSNL was around 28-30% in the major circles. However, the revenue sharing offered by the bidders in the remaining seven circles was very low and therefore the firm had not appointed them, the source in BSNL said. The decision with respect to these are yet to be taken, he added. At the same time, this official at BSNL feels that the franchisee model at the PSU might play spoilsport as the firm would be largely dependent on these external companies. BSNL currently has around 28 million fixed lines that provide broadband connectivity. However, this figure has been constantly dipping with time.