State-owned, loss-making BSNL is understood to be in a protest mode on any move by the government to bar foreign vendors from participating in its forthcoming tender for rolling out 4G network. Though the government has not officially taken any such decision, its think tank body, Niti Aayog has recently recommended that BSNL’s 4G network be made using only locally designed, developed and manufactured (IDDM) products.
However, BSNL officials feel that if any such decision is taken by the government and imposed on it, it would further cripple the telco and its revival despite a government bailout package of over Rs 70,000 crore. The risk of any move to bar foreign vendors like Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung, ZTE or Huawei from participating in the tender would mean delay as well as cost escalation in procurement of equipment by more than 25%. Officials said that it is ironical that the government which is providing money to the PSU for revival should favour any move which escalates costs as well as delays in rollout of the network.
Further, officials point out that if there’s no bar on the private telcos on procuring equipment from foreign vendors why should it be on a PSU which is expected to compete with them.
BSNL has pointed out that it has come out with the tender after due deliberations regarding the latest specifications of technology and any external interference in the process is not fair for a company which is supposed to run on commercial lines.
According to sources, BSNL CMD PK Purwar reiterated the stand during the Niti Aayog meeting. “The tender is in public domain and anyone can buy and bid. What BSNL needs is 40-watt transmission power/port/RAN, etc, which are ready to use and already deployed,” Purwar said during the meeting, the minutes of which have been seen by FE. “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,” he said during the meeting.