Govt denies BSNL request to use 4G equipment from international vendors

15 Mar 2021

India’s Ministry of Communications (MoC) has reportedly rejected a request from state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) for permission to utilise core network equipment from foreign vendors such as Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung rather than from domestic suppliers, the Economic Times writes. BSNL cited reliability issues with equipment from Indian vendors and sought to utilise tested technology from international vendors to avoid further delays to its full 4G rollout. The company also highlighted the lack of readiness from Indian firms, claiming that a fully home-grown 4G ecosystem would not be ready until the second half of 2022. BSNL’s 4G rollout plans have been delayed several times by issues relating to vendor selection, scrapping its initial tender in July 2020 amidst government pressure to exclude Chinese vendors from the deployment and accusations that the terms were too restrictive and would effectively exclude domestic vendors. As noted by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, a new tender was issued in January 2021 covering all 20 of the circles served by BSNL along with the Delhi and Mumbai circles, BSNL having taken over operation of the mobile networks in these areas from sister company Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL).