BSNL cancels 4G tender of Chinese telecom gear to promote local under PM Modi’s Make in India war cry

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Updated: Jul 02, 2020 11:19 AM

India has declared a war on Chinese items and the latest to lend its support to India’s cause is BSNL. State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has cancelled a tender for 4G upgrade.

India has declared a war on Chinese items and the latest to lend its support to India’s cause is BSNL. State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has cancelled a tender for 4G upgrade after the Department of Telecom (DoT) asked the telecom operator to not use Chinese telecom gear, PTI reported citing an unidentified source. The telecom operator will now float a new tender which will largely focus on Make in India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to promote domestic manufacturing and pushes to make India atma nirbhar or self-reliant. Chinese equipment maker ZTE and Huawei are two of the major companies for supplying equipment.

However, the move by BSNL didn’t come easy and the telecom operator had earlier protested the ban on Chinese companies. Officials of the loss making PSU had said that the decision to buy only India made equipment will raise the cost of procurement by more than 25%, Financial Express reported this week. “The tender is in public domain and anyone can buy and bid… BSNL does not have money for experimentation. In view of this, before finalising tenders, capabilities have to be demonstrated and the product should be ready,” PK Purwar, CMD, BSNL said during a NITI Aayog meeting. 

The telecom operator is burning cash and the move to ban China or any other foreignc company from participating in BSNL tenders would not only mean a cost escalation for the PSU but also delays in rolling out 4G technology. BSNL had recently received a government bailout of Rs 75,000 crore as it continues to grapple with financial issues.

Of the total size of the telecom equipment market which is pegged to be around Rs 12,000 crore, the share of Chinese products is around one-fourth. In major Indian telecom companies, only Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Jio does not have Chinese telecom gear while others including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea’s 4G network is largely built by Huawei and ZTE.

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