With no work in progress of the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)-C-DOT consortium to erect 4G towers for Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) network, the government’s aim of installing 25,000 towers in the next 500 days as announced in October seems difficult.
According to sources from Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and industry, the project may get further delayed as the TCS consortium is yet to start even the field trials.
As per the sources, the time lines of the supply orders is beyond far away from actual deployment. At present equipment/ solutions which will be supplied to BSNL is still under testing phases and they have not got the finial clearance from the ‘approval committee’.
“The project may get further delayed as the TCS consortium is yet to start even the field trials in live conditions to supply and launch pilot network of 200 sites. The performance of 200 field trial sites will only pave way for the full-fledged roll out of 4G network of BSNL,” a source familiar with the developments told BusinessLine.
The sources said the times lines of the supply order is far away from actual deployment timeline, being envisaged in government’s mission project.
Further, the government’s project also include to erect one-lakh towers for BSNL, which is already running late and according to sources that can be started by September only, which was supposed to start around late 2022. As per the tender timelines, the complete roll out for the project was 24 months from the day of the first connectivity services, which now is expected to go till end of 2025.
“With such a scenario, BSNL may further delay its own commercial roll out...This will indirectly delay the 4G services for BSNL’s existing customers and benefit private telecom service providers (TSPs),” said another source.
However, according to DoT officials, the project is going on the ‘mission mode’ and should complete on a time-bound manner.
“To fulfill the expectation of government to complete the project in mission mode in 500 days from the date of approval, BSNL has to work in total coordination with USOF, DoT and State governments,” an official told BL.
Recently, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaisnaw also said that BSNL will start 5G services in 2024. The TCS and C-DOT led consortium will roll out 4G network, which will be upgraded to 5G in about a year, he said.
In November, the government had approved BSNL’s plan to go ahead with a Rs. 26,821 crore order to TCS and C-DOT consortium for rolling out 4G network.