NEW DELHI: Home-bred companies HFCL, ITI Limited, Tech Mahindra, L&T, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Galore Networks have submitted Express of Interest (EoI) for state-run BSNL‘s phase nine tender for 57,000 4G sites nationally. HFCL and L&T have submitted their bid with Mumbai-based PertSol for core technology and US-based Mavenir for radio. Tech Mahindra has submitted bid with Sterlite for radio and Pertsol for core technology. ITI and TCS have submitted their bid with state-run C-DoT for core technology and Tejas Networks for radio. ITI and TCS have separately submitted a bid together, said people aware of the matter.
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The submission by Bangalore-based Galore Networks came as a surprise to many. As per information available on its website, the company claims to offer end-to-end solutions are centred around 5G, IoT, Cloud Offering’s/NFv -SDN and legacy network products ranging from 2G-3G & 4G.
Galore, which was established in 2013, hasn’t partnered with any other company for core and radio technologies for the EoI, sources said.
All participating companies, also known as master system integrators, submitted their EoIs on Tuesday. BSNL will finalise and give a letter of intent to qualified bidders, who will be required to submit bank guarantees (BG) of Rs 5 crore to start proof of concept (PoC) to be completed within four months.
“Selected MSIs will have to do PoC. There are eight cities in total and every MSI will get one city, where they will have to deploy RAN and core under the PoC to test their technologies. Once successful, they will be allowed to participate in the tender,” a person working with a leading home-bred vendor told ET.
BSNL’s survival depends on the launch of 4G services, and it expects 4G rollout within 10 months of successful completion of trials by local companies, and if the Proof of Concept (PoC) gets completed within four months, the network could be rolled out after 14 months from the said date.
Otherwise, the telco believes the specified rollout timelines would also get extended.
PK Purwar-headed BSN’s 4G network launch has been dragged following a series of controversies involving homegrown companies and their multinational rivals. The fourth-largest telco had to scrap the notice inviting tender (NIT), released in March last year on the back of outcry from local telecom companies alleging restrictive conditions.
In January 2021, BSNL come out with a detailed notice inviting e-tender, for planning, testing, deployment and annual maintenance of its much-awaited 4G network across four operational zones in addition to Delhi and Mumbai circles for 57,000 sites on a turnkey basis. However, the conditions required its partners like Nokia to deposit their source code for core and radio network in an escrow account.
However, the Empowered Technology Group (ETG), headed by Principal Scientific Advisor K. VijayRaghavan approved the plan in late March, which will allow multinational vendors like Nokia and Samsung to apply for the telco’s 4G tender. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had also given its nod to split the tender for the rollout of the 4G services into two parts as BSNL was facing delays owing to the slow pace of trials by the Indian companies.
BSNL will reportedly bring out a fresh tender for 50,000 4G sites wherein the state-run firm can buy equipment from global firms like Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung, which were previously.