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Atmanirbhar Bharat: ITI ropes in C-DoT, Tejas to illustrate BSNL’s commercial 4G network

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As part of a pilot project, state-run ITI Limited has collaborated with the Centre for Telematics Development (C-DoT), India’s indigenous technology division, and homegrown Tejas Networks to build core and radio networks for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNLfourth )’s generation or 4G services venture.

As part of a pilot project, state-run ITI Limited has partnered with the Centre for Telematics Development (C-DoT), India’s indigenous technology arm, and homegrown Tejas Networks to deploy core and radio networks for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNLfourth )’s generation or 4G services foray.

This is an opportunity for us (BSNL supply). We are looking at Indian companies that can move technology so that we can produce equipment, “This (BSNL supply) is an opportunity for us. We are looking at Indian companies that can transfer technology so that we can manufacture equipment” (PoC).

The public sector company led by Agarwal is actively eager to supply BSNL with next-generation telecom equipment in line with the ambitious Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) initiative of the Centre, which aims to reduce the reliance of the country on imports.

“Indian companies are capable of supplying core and radio on a turnkey basis as indicated by the state-owned telecom operator. We are ready to partner with Indian companies that meet tender conditions, and have already invited proposals from them,” said the top executive.

Last week, ITI released a Request for Proposal (RFP) inviting domestic businesses, as part of a policy initiative, to jointly bid for BSNL’s 4G equipment supplies and enjoy a 20% reservation in telco order. Tech Mahindra and Tata Consulting Services have already entered into agreements with major device integrators – (TCS).

Agarwal added, “Once we start Proof-of-Concept (PoC) with local companies, then we can decide the services part keeping strict service-level agreements (SLA) which is typically about 30% of the radio network cost.”

According to Agarwal, Bengaluru-based telecom gear manufacturer, Tejas Networks has developed a centralized RAN or C-RAN infrastructure for 4G, 4G+ and 5G networks, while Mavenir Systems, a US-based firm, has also developed a local core network and is ready to move technology to a state-owned large-scale manufacturing company.

In addition to state-owned Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) and ITI Limited, companies competing for BSNL’s 4G supply include Korean Samsung, Finnish Nokia, Swedish Ericsson, as well as domestic companies such as HFCL Limited, Tejas Networks, Sterlite Technology, Polycab India, and major device integrators such as L&T and HCL.

The eight-member committee, headed by DoT (technology) member K Ramchand, previously reported that a detailed Indian telecommunications stack needs to be put together with a focus on indigenous development and national security.

The government amended the 2017 General Financial Rules last year, limiting companies from countries sharing a land border with India – such as China and Pakistan – from winning government contracts, likely preventing Chinese Huawei and ZTE from bidding.

As part of its efforts to combine different components, the public-owned company has prepared its blueprint for manufacturing 4G and 5G eNodeBs and related network components, so that the country’s telecommunications sector depends on local companies to achieve self-reliance.

Earlier this month, following the Department of Telecommunications ‘(DoT) recommendation to include homegrown enterprises, BSNL welcomed new proposals from vendors as well as consortiums for planning, testing, rollout and annual maintenance of 57,000 sites for the forthcoming 4G network across the country on a turnkey basis.

The fourth-largest telco that has recently taken over the network operations of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) Delhi and Mumbai had to scrap its inviting tender notice, published on March 23, 2020, following a series of complaints from homegrown businesses citing the inclusion of restrictive conditions that could potentially debase them.

BSNL is expected to begin trials on the 2100 MHz spectrum band that would be administratively allocated and financed by the Centre through capital infusion at a value of Rs 20,140 crore, while the government would be responsible for the GST sum of Rs 3,674 crore through budgetary resources.

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Written by Jasspreet Kaur

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