BSNL to enlist Nokia, ZTE to accelerate 4G rollout

7 May 2020

The board of state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has reportedly approved a proposal to bypass the tender process and task its incumbent vendors to upgrade around 50,000 sites to 4G technology. The Financial Express cites unnamed sources as saying that the board had chosen to upgrade its existing sites to accelerate the pace of the upgrade, on the basis that a 4G rollout via a new tender could take upwards of 18 months whilst the upgrade route was allow the company to begin offering 4G services within four to six months. The board is reportedly keen to hasten the deployment so that BSNL is capable of launching commercial 4G services as soon as it receives the necessary frequencies, ensuring that it can recoup the cost of its spectrum fees. The chosen method is also expected to lower CAPEX and OPEX. According to the sources, incumbent vendors ZTE and Nokia will be contacted shortly to place the order, which is expected to cost between around INR35 billion and INR40 billion (USD465 million and USD531 million).