The rollout of 4G network by state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) will get delayed further as domestic firms, which have been mandated to conduct trials for the project, have hit a fresh hurdle. Shortlisted firms such as Tech Mahindra, HFCL and L&T are facing challenges with their Indian partner, Pertsol, which is offering the core solution for the network.
Sources said these firms have communicated to BSNL that conducting trials with Pertsol won’t be feasible and chances of failure are high as several technical glitches were unearthed during technical discussions. These firms have, therefore, suggested that they be allowed to conduct the trials with state-owned, C-DoT’s core solution. However, so far they have not been accorded permission as C-DoT has a tie-up with TCS for conducting the trials.
As reported earlier, BSNL had selected TCS, Tech Mahindra, HFCL, L&T and ITI to conduct 4G trials at select locations with their core and radio network partners. Trials are necessary as BSNL has been mandated by government to use equipment from local firms only for its core network as part of what is called a system integrator-led model.
TCS has partnered with C-DoT for core network and Tejas and Altiostar for radio equipment. Tech Mahindra has tied up with Pertsol for core network and Sterlite and Altiostar for radio network. Similarly, HFCL has partnered with Pertsol for core and Mavenir for radio network, while L&T has proposed to do the trials with Pertsol’s core and Mavenir’s radio network.
Since, barring TCS, the other selected firms have chosen Pertsol as their core network partner and the solution has technical issues, these firms are worried that if they conduct trials and if they fail, they will not make it to the next stage.
If these firms are not allowed to use C-DoT’s core solution, TCS will be the only firm left in the fray for the network rollout of BSNL. But here also there’s a problem. TCS has proposed 128 deviations in its product specifications, which BSNL feels could jeopardise its business prospects and impact customer experience.
As per BSNL officials, the deviations proposed by TCS include a few critical issues and cannot be compromised for testing of the equipment being proposed under proof of concept (PoC) or trials as the same equipment has to be deployed in commercial network immediately after the trials.
The network rollout of BSNL is already running much behind schedule. An earlier tender for 4G was cancelled in July last year. Since then, BSNL has been engaging with local firms to roll out its network but no specific timelines have been specified. BSNL expects 4G rollout within a period of 10 months on successful completion of trials but given that there are so many hurdles around the trials, the network rollout is not expected to happen for another 18-20 months.