BSNL’s 4G plans taking a delayed path

The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL)’s tender for upgrading telecom equipment to 4G, is set to be further delayed.

The Central government has constituted a committee last week to “refine technical specifications” and make them more favourable to Indian companies. This move is seen by the BSNL Employees’ Union, which organised a nationwide protest on Friday demanding allocation of 4G to BSNL, as another delaying tactic to favour private players.

A tender was issued in March after much delay. However, a group called Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC) objected to the tender saying that it is not favourable to Indian companies and goes against ‘Make in India’ norms. One of the requirements was that the company should have previous experience of setting up a mobile network of at least 20 million subscribers. None of the Indian suppliers have that experience, as all major telecom players depend on foreign companies.

Due to the TEPC’s objection, the tender was cancelled. The eight-member committee, now constituted to recommend technical specifications, is expected to recommend core domestic network components that can be deployed in the BSNL network. Due to the recent issues on the Indo-China border and the push against Chinese companies, another project for upgrading 2G and 3G towers that was awarded to Chinese company ZTE in May now hangs in the balance.

“The TEPC is a paper organisation meant to delay BSNL’s 4G plans. All of the private players began 4G deployment way back in 2016. One of the key components of the Centre’s revival package announced in October last year was the provision of 4G for BSNL. After the delayed tender call in March, it was cancelled and now a committee has been constituted to set norms. During this pandemic period, when students across the country are depending upon faster connections for online classes and people are all working from home and coordinating through video conferences, BSNL is being prevented from providing a faster 4G experience,” says C. Santosh Kumar, Kerala Circle Secretary of BSNL Employees’ Union.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2021 6:21:01 AM |

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