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DoT committee rejects BSNL concern over using locally made 4G core

A technical committee set up by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has advised Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) to use an Indian-made 4G core (nerve centre of a telecom network), rejecting the concerns raised over the same by the state-owned operator.

The move is expected to give a huge boost to domestic telecom gear makers, such as Tejas Network, Tech Mahindra, C-Dot, VNL, and HFCL, among others. At the same time, it could adversely impact global players like Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE, and others that have earlier supplied telecom gear to BSNL.

The committee, set up to decide the terms of BSNL’s 4G tender, has said a comprehensive Indian telecom stack needs to be put together with the focus on indigenous manufacturing.

An earlier tender, floated by BSNL, was cancelled after domestic vendors complained that it was violative of the Make-in-India policy and designed to keep them out, encouraging global telecom gear makers instead.

The committee’s report was to be taken as a guideline, on the basis of which BSNL would finalise the new tender. However, it is believed that BSNL has sent the draft tender back to the DoT for vetting — a move which, DoT officials say, will only delay the finalisation of the contract.

The committee has also rejected BSNL’s contention that the government should adequately compensate it for the over-six-month delay in rollout of 4G services due to cancellation of the tender, and for the likely future delays of more than a year given the requirement domestic manufacturers need to furnish their proof of concept.

BSNL had also demanded compensation for any delay in the rollout of 4G services on account of the condition that it would have to use only Indian-made 4G core.

has said, moreover, that the move would mean that it would have to run two separate cores — the new one proposed by the committee which is only 4G, and the other supporting 2G, 3G and 4G — and this would increase its capex and opex.

Challenging this contention, the committee has said that there is no need for BSNL to buy 2G radio access network as it was high time that its 2G customers were migrated to 4G.

BSNL has also asked for a clarification of the definition of “Indian core”, which, according the committee’s definition, means a core made by a company incorporated, registered and headquartered in India. It has argued that it would be tough to verify whether a company is headquartered in India, as that fact is not mentioned in the certification of registration. DoT officials say that the issue can be resolved if the bidder is asked for self-certification.

In addition, BSNL has said that there is a lack of clarity on the structure of the proof of concept (POC), and that it would not be possible to check each and every specification of the equipment in just four months — the recommended time for the installation and commissioning of the equipment. Domestic manufacturers will need to give their POC before the telecom equipment is cleared for commercial use. Business Standard

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