BSNL takes over MTNL network operations, plans 4G tender

5 Jan 2021

State-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has taken over operation of the mobile networks of its sister company Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) in the Delhi and Mumbai circles, the Economic Times writes, citing a notice from Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The move is a step towards merging the two operators as part of a long-term recovery strategy to aid the ailing firms, which have been historically split along geographic lines, with MTNL serving the Delhi and Mumbai circles whilst BSNL covered the rest of the country. BSNL proposed the handover in late October last year and, following MTNL’s approval in December, BSNL’s Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) was extended for a further 20 years and modified to allow it to operate nationwide, including Mumbai and Delhi.

In a related development, meanwhile, BSNL has announced that it will be launching a tender for the supply of 57,000 4G sites. The tender will cover the ‘planning, engineering, supply, installation, testing, commissioning and annual maintenance of 4G mobile network’ nationwide, including Delhi and Mumbai. Certain conditions of the tender would reportedly discourage multinational vendors such as Finland’s Nokia and Chinese supplier ZTE. Instead, the terms incentivise participation from domestic firms, in line with the government’s controversial ‘Make in India’ policy.