Successful firms will be eligible for bidding to build new network.
Domestic tech majors like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Tech Mahindra, HFCL, and L&T have been shortlisted by state-run BSNL to conduct trials to test their local equipment. These firms will be given four months’ time to conduct the trials and display proof of their 4G network technology, after which the successful ones will be eligible to bid for rolling out BSNL’s 4G network. Traditional global telecom network firms like Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung, Huawei, etc, did not participate in the process for the trials.
Trials are necessary because BSNL has been mandated to use equipment from local firms only for its core network as part of what is called a system integrator-led model.
According to officials, the trials will be conducted at five locations to test the equipment. TCS, which has partnered with C-DoT for core network and Tejas and Altiostar for radio equipment, will conduct the trials at Chandigarh.
Tech Mahindra will conduct the trials with core equipment of Pertsol and radio network of Sterlite and Altiostar at Pune. Similarly, HFCL will conduct trials with Pertsol and Mavenir at Chennai and L&T, too, will do along with Pertsol and Mavenir at Bangalore. State-run ITI will conduct trials at Ambala.
Under the multi-vendor model for which trials are being conducted, the 4G network would be built and managed by a system integrator, which would basically partner different companies for hardware and software and assemble everything. This is a new model that is being tried globally. For BSNL, as the system integrator would be an Indian player, it would lend a domestic touch in building the network.
Most private mobile operators have built their networks through turnkey contracts awarded to a single vendor, which, after commissioning, also manages it under managed services agreement. It saves cost and improves network efficiency. In the system integrator model, the network would have components of several players, basically by way of assembling, which may increase costs and lead to quality issues or technical glitches.
BSNL expects 4G rollout within a period of 10 months on successful completion of trials. Assuming that trials are successfully completed in four months, the network can be rolled out after 14 months from that date. But, in case the trials are not completed within the specified timelines, then rollout timelines may also get extended.