BSNL is soon expected to bring out a fresh tender for 50,000 4G sites wherein the state-run firm can buy equipment from global firms like Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung. The procurement of equipment from the global firms is part of a plan to split the 4G rollout into two parts – Part A comprising 57,000 sites should be strictly reserved for domestic vendors for the core network while for the remaining 50,000 sites, Part B, there should be an open tender with commercial terms and conditions. The Empowered Technology Group (ETG) has also given its approval for the same and the company has apprised Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) also regarding the plan a few days ago.
Earlier, the department of telecommunications (DoT) gave its approval to split the tender for the rollout of the 4G services into two parts as the firm was facing delays in rolling out the network as most of the Indian firms had sought more time to complete the trials. ETG in its recommendations said that BSNL should procure radio and core equipment for 57,000 4G sites (includes 7,000 MTNL sites) from Indian companies which may not have prior experience in supplying 4G telecom equipment.
“BSNL can also, in parallel procure 50,000 4G RAN/associated core from trusted sources with experience of such supplies. This will facilitate the launch of 4G services by BSNL, on a reasonable scale, and a much faster time frame,” ETG said in its recommendations, a copy of which has been seen by Financial Express.
The ETG also recommended that in case, trials by the Indian companies are successful and acceptable for the core network to meet BSNL’s commercial requirements, the company should appropriately examine the feasibility of using this core equipment for the radio network procured under tender B.
The ETG is headed by principal scientific advisor K VijayRaghavan and members of the group include the chairman of the Atomic energy commission, chairman of Space Commission, chairman of DRDO, secretary of Ministry of Electronics and IT, telecom secretary and secretary of Department of Science and technology. The ETG was set up to advise the government on its technology supplier and procurement strategy, to encourage both state and central government, to develop in-house expertise in policy and use aspects of emerging technologies and develop an indigenization roadmap for selected key technologies etc.
BSNL had written to the government that its survival depended on the early rollout of 4G services and so far, there was no proven Indian core available. The company had said that as per the expression of interest floated by it, firms need to complete the trials in 4 months, but except TCS, most firms had sought for extension of the time frame to 6-8 months.
The company had said that it expected a 4G rollout within 10 months on successful completion of trials by local firms. Assuming that PoC got completed in four months, the network could be rolled out after 14 months from that date. But, in case PoC was not completed within the specified timelines then rollout timelines would also get extended.