However, Bengaluru-based ITI proposed to use TCS-led telecom equipment, following the proof-of-concept conducted in Ambala and Chandigarh.
“We have received bids from TCS and ITI today, and they will be opened on Wednesday,” a senior BSNL official told ETTelecom without divulging further details.
TCS, a Tata group company has partnered with state-controlled Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) that will provide indigenously-developed 4G core solution, upgradable to 5G technology by next year.
ITI has a 20% reservation in the overall deployment of BSNL’s next generation commercial network.
Queries to TCS and ITI did not elicit any response.
Following the price stalemate between Mumbai-based TCS and BSNL, the telecom gear procurement has been dragged further which according to the sources, has now been broadly negotiated between the two companies.
Earlier, the TCS-backed consortium quoted Rs 26,821 crore for pan India 4G network deployment including operations and maintenance (O&M) for 10 years.
Once a technical evaluation is done, the BSNL-led price committee would look into the bid cost, and arrive at a final price discovery after further negotiations following which the telecom department (DoT) would seek an approval from the group of ministers (GoM), a person privy to the developments said.
Mumbai-based system integrator (SI) had proposed to supply core equipment within the 12 months of receiving the purchase order, while the supply of radio equipment is expected to be completed over a period of 18-24 months, considering the existing supply chain constraints.
Last year, Tata Sons acquired Bangaluru-based telecom firm Tejas Networks, which would act as a supplier of 4G radio network equipment to the state-run telco. In turn, Tejas also bought a majority stake in homegrown semiconductor firm Saankhya Labs for Rs 284 crores, early this year.
The 4G deal comes close on the heels of the Centre’s Rs 1.64-lakh crore lifeline package for the public sector carrier, which includes administrative approval of required spectrum, 4G launch and funding of operational and capital expenses, among other components.
The government will make administrative allocation of spectrum for commercial 4G services at the cost of Rs 44,993-crore through equity infusion.
BSNL currently has 5 MHz spectrum in the 2,100 MHz band, and currently offers 2G and 3G mobile services, and would need additional 5 MHz spectrum in the same band to launch 4G services across the country.
On March 31, BSNL placed an order with the Mumbai-based Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to procure equipment for 6,400 radio sites to be deployed on 2100 MHz and 900 MHz frequency bands.
Early this year, BSNL revised its order to procure network gear for an additional 100,000 sites.
In January last year, BSNL had released expression of interest (EoI), for planning, testing, deployment and annual maintenance of its commercial 4G network across four operational zones in addition to Delhi and Mumbai circles on a turnkey basis, and sought Indian companies and consortiums to first deploy proof of concept (PoC) in order to demonstrate their technology provenness
Rival consortiums led by L&T, Tech Mahindra and HFCL did not participate.
BSNL is expecting its revenue to swell by 20% after a full-fledged commercial launch of next generation services in FY 2023-24.
In 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi government had announced a Rs 70,000-crore revival package for BSNL to principally cover a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) employees, aimed to ease the balance sheet.