Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), the state-run telecom operator, is ready to launch 4G network services in January 2023. The telecom operator has reportedly completed Proof of Concept (PoC) trials with a TCS (Tata Consulting Services) led consortium. TCS is already confident in the opportunities that this deal with BSNL will open for the company in the global market, which is dominated by names such as Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei. According to the FE report, 4G PoC trials were completed by BSNL in Chandigarh in the last week of October 2023. A government official told the publication that the rollout of 4G services will now be determined using the original technology stack.
Pricing and commercial terms not yet finalized between TCS and BSNL
BSNL and TCS are yet to finalize their pricing and commercial terms. BSNL is looking to roll out its native 4G technology to more than 100,000 locations in India. While this will happen in phases, the telecommunications and information technology company needs to come to an agreement on the commercial terms of the deal. Earlier, there were reports that BSNL was not satisfied with the cost estimates expected by TCS to upgrade 3G sites to 4G.
Although it looks like BSNL will mostly stick with the Tata Group companies to get the work done, how this will be done is something we will have to wait and watch. BSNL will not be able to operate 5G NSA (non-standalone) if the upgrade to 4G networks is not done quickly. TCS and C-DoT designed the original 4G stack, and Tejas Networks will be the equipment supplier in the deal.
Earlier this year, BSNL received a revival package worth Rs 1.64 crore. This included the capital expenditures required to roll out 4G, along with paying dues and reducing debt from the balance sheet. If all goes well and a commercial agreement is signed soon, BSNL could roll out native 4G as soon as January 2023.