BSNL to launch 4G trial run in four districts

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited’s (BSNL) trial run for 4G is set to begin in four cities in Kerala by August, ahead of the State-wide launch in December.

The much-delayed 4G launch of the public sector telecom major is now being done in collaboration with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), after an earlier tender was scrapped following the Union government’s objections to the involvement of Chinese suppliers.

C.V. Vinod, Chief General Manager, BSNL, Kerala Circle, told The Hindu that the TCS will begin its trial run at Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Kozhikode and Kannur.

"A total of 800 towers have been approved for Kerala for the trial launch, with Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam having a larger number of those towers. The trial run is concentrated mostly in urban areas with maximum mobile traffic, for real-time testing of how the system holds up. Once the demonstration is successfully completed, the rollout across the State will begin by December," says Mr. Vinod.

BSNL employees unions have been protesting frequently over the past few years accusing the Union government of denying the BSNL a level-playing field by not allowing it to launch 4G services at a time when private telecom majors are already getting ready for the launch of 5G services.

In 2020, BSNL's tender for 4G upgrade was cancelled after the Department of Telecom (DoT) objected to the use of Chinese telecom gear. A group called Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC) has also objected to the tender saying that it is not favourable to Indian companies and goes against ‘Make in India’ norms, although the unions viewed these as tactics to further delay BSNL's 4G rollout as such restrictions were never imposed on private companies.

The bidding conditions had to be amended to make it favourable to Indian companies. It is in this context that the TCS, which has no prior experience in telecom networks, entered the picture, winning the bid over four other Indian companies. In 2021, the company acquired a considerable stake in Tejas Networks, a company dealing in optical and broadband networking products. Early this month, Union Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told the Lok Sabha that India's first "fully indigenous" 4G network will be launched this year.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2022 7:10:56 pm |