At a time when private telecom operators are rolling out 5G services, BSNL is set to place its first commercial order for 4G network equipment in two months, a top executive familiar with the matter told businessline on conditions of anonymity.

As per the timeline laid out by the executive, it will take another 6-8 months after which a commercially usable 4G network will be made available. BSNL and its chosen 4G network supplier, TCS, are yet to sign the commercial agreement, after encountering differences in payments. However, the executive said the agreement will be signed in two months’ time.

Commercial deployment of 4G sites will commence next year, as it will take 4-6 months for BSNL to acquire and roll out core 4G network, the executive said.

The executive also said semiconductor shortage and other supply chain issues are factors determining the timelines.

Delays notwithstanding, BSNL is set to sign the $2 billion 4G contract with TCS, according to sources. 

The signing of the contract was delayed, as the cash-strapped PSU struggled to make payments. Last year, similar delays were encountered as TCS was completing its proof-of-concept studies.

While the top three Indian operators inaugurated their 5G network on October 1, BSNL is the only operator which has not been able to provide its subscribers with 4G network yet.