BSNL, MTNL cancel 4G network upgradation tenders

Mumbai | Updated on July 01, 2020

State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) have cancelled tenders issued for the upgradation of 4G network across various circles.

The tender, floated on March 23, was marred in controversy with Indian operators stating that it did not support the government’s ‘Make in India’ policies.

The tender for planning, engineering, supply, installation, testing commissioning and annual maintenance of BSNL’s 4G network in the north, east, west and south zones has been cancelled. Similarly, the one for Delhi and Mumbai circles of MTNL has also been cancelled, a source close to the development told BusinessLine.

The tenders, which were not closed, were called for upgradation of the network to support 4G services and maintenance across these circles, the source added.

The cancellation came in following an intervention by the telecom licensor, Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

Earlier in April, the licensor had pulled up BSNL for the terms and conditions in the tender, which the domestic manufacturers alleged disqualify them from making bids. Further, they also accused BSNL of favouring global players with “restrictive conditions”.

However, All Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB), the umbrella organisation of BSNL trade unions and associations, had alleged that certain operators were trying to stop the tender.

“To our knowledge, none of the Indian suppliers are manufacturing 4G equipment. In the name of ‘Make in India’, they are trying to stop a BSNL tender, which is the lifeline for BSNL,” AUAB said in an earlier letter to the Prime Minister in May this year.

There only five 4G equipment manufacturers globally – Korean firm Samsung, Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE, and European firms Ericsson and Nokia.

For BSNL, the contract valued at about ₹9,000 crore, included upgradation of 50,000 sites across the country to offer high-speed internet services. The project was also crucial to the public sector unit, as it was already four years behind private telecom companies such as Reliance Jio Infocom and Bharti Airtel in launching 4G services.

Published on July 01, 2020

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