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BSNL 4G rollout likely to be delayed as telco extends trials

The rollout of BSNL’s 4G services is likely to be delayed further as the company has extended the trials by two months. Earlier, the trials were expected to be over by October 31, 2021. Since BSNL expects a 4G rollout within 10 months on successful completion of trials, this means that the rollout is expected only by the end of next year.

“Considering the representation received from PoC (proof of concept) vendors…the PoC timeline has been extended till December 31, 2021, as a one-time measure for completion of PoC and no further extension will be granted by BSNL,” the company said in a letter to the vendors.

As is known, BSNL has been mandated by the government to utilize ‘domestic core or Indian core’ in its network for expanding 4G services. Accordingly, BSNL floated a tender for procurement of 50,000 sites with local core and a letter of intent has already been issued to five vendors including TCS, Tech Mahindra, HFCL, L&T and ITI.

The network can be rolled out after the selected firms demonstrate their solution during the trials but apart from TCS, other companies such as Tech Mahindra, HFCL and L&T are facing challenges with their core solution. TCS on its part has suggested 128 deviations to test the network, which BSNL feels could jeopardise its business prospects and impact customer experience.

The network rollout of BSNL has already been delayed much as an earlier tender for 4G was cancelled in July last year. Since then, BSNL has been engaging with local firms to roll out its network but no specific timelines have been specified.

The state-run firm has also not been able to upgrade its network in the south and west zones. The proposal by BSNL has not been cleared during its recent board meetings. The company wanted to upgrade the 2G/3G sites, totalling around 13,533 in south and west zones at a cost of Rs 567.35 crore. But the government’s nominees on the BSNL board had deferred the proposal. The CMD of the company PK Purwar had also written a letter to the telecom secretary seeking approval from the government’s nominees but despite that, the issue was deferred. Financial Express

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