With a target to roll out 4G services at the earliest, state-run BSNL has written to the heads of all its telecom circles to identify the sites and material requirement for installation of 4G nodes. The circle heads are required to submit details to BSNL headquarters by December 15, so that necessary action can be initiated.
The network rollout of BSNL has already been delayed much as an earlier tender for 4G was cancelled in July last year. After that, BSNL invited an expression of interest (EoI) on January 1 this year for registration-cum-participation in the upcoming 4G tender through proof of concept (PoC) concept. Consequently, letter of intent (LoI) was issued to five eligible bidders namely TCS, Tech Mahindra, HFCL, L&T and ITI, on July 1, 2021.
As is known, BSNL has been mandated by the government to utilise ‘domestic core or Indian core’ in its network for expanding 4G services.
The network can be rolled out after the selected firms demonstrate their solution during the trials but apart from TCS, other companies such as Tech Mahindra, HFCL and L&T are facing challenges with their core solution. The state-run firm has already extended the trials by two months. Earlier, the trials were expected to be over by October 31, 2021 but now the bidders have been given time till December 31, 2012.
“The proof of concept is likely to be completed very soon. Immediately, thereafter, this office is planning to initiate the procurement of 4G equipment through successful PoC vendor,” BSNL corporate office said in its communications to heads of telecom circles.
BSNL said to rollout 4G services on the fast-track mode, it is imperative to plan the sites where the 4G nodes need to be installed in advance. “Accordingly, all the circles are hereby requested to identify the sites and associated material requirement for installation of 4G nodes,” the communication said.
Having faced several delays, BSNL now plans to rollout its 4G network by September next year. What makes matters worse is that the state-run firm has also not been able to upgrade its network in the south and west zones. A proposal by BSNL has not been cleared during its recent board meetings. The company wanted to upgrade the 2G/3G sites, totalling around 13,533 in south and west zones at a cost of `567.35 crore. But the government’s nominees on the BSNL board had deferred the proposal. The CMD of the company PK Purwar had also written a letter to the telecom secretary seeking approval from the government’s nominees but despite that, the issue was deferred.