India’s BSNL must source 4G equipment locally – but will it be ready?

India’s BSNL must source 4G equipment locally – but will it be ready?

The woes of state-owned Indian operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) have apparently deepened after a request to use 4G core technology from established names for a future rollout was turned down.

The operator has been pointing out that there may be reliability issues with homegrown telecommunications equipment vendors and that using proven or tested 4G core technology from major names like Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung might be a better strategy.

However, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had already put forward criteria that included using domestic vendors and, according to Indian news reports, this stipulation is unlikely to be relaxed.

However, it’s hard to tell whether a full-fledged home-grown ecosystem consisting of radio and core components is going to be ready, or for that matter tested, in time for BSNL's network rollout, whenever that may happen.

The latest notice, inviting e-tender, for planning, testing, deployment and annual maintenance of a 4G network across four zones in addition to the Delhi and Mumbai circles on a turnkey basis, came out in January.

Confusingly, the DoT'S technical committee seems to allow for participation at the proof of concept level but not to insist that the solutions offered be technically proven, putting BSNL in a tricky situation when it comes to making its final choice.

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