Following hard on the heels of yesterday’s report that it is to roll out 112,000 mobile towers across India comes the news that state-owned Indian operator BSNL has appointed a partner with which it will roll out 6,000 of the 4G sites.
The Rs 550-crore (about $72.3 million) contract has gone to Indian company Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a provider of what it describes as innovative, best-in-class consulting, IT solutions and services.
According to Indian news reports, BSNL with TCS will deploy 4G sites at locations that have a ‘high revenue potential’ and where the ‘infrastructure is 4G-ready’. This will apparently be followed by a pan-India rollout.
According to an official from the Centre for Development for Telematics (C-DoT), an Indian government-owned telecommunications technology development centre, quoted in India’s Economic Times, BSNL will launch its commercial 4G services, along with non-standalone 5G, by August this year.
This assessment may be optimistic; BSNL’s record to date as far as 4G is concerned is not too encouraging.
In 2020 the operator had its 4G tender cancelled by the government after accusations of conditions restricting participation from domestic firms. Despite requests from BSNL to be permitted to use 4G core technology from established names, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) eventually put forward criteria that included using domestic vendors, which may have limited the operator’s access to proven or tested 4G core technology.
The situation may now be close to resolution but BSNL’s performance in the mobile market remains poor. According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) figures BSNL is now way behind its private operator rivals in terms of market share.
At the end of January 2022 BSNL and fellow state-owned operator Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) together held a market share of only 10.24%, while private operators held an 89.76% share. And of course all the big names already offer 4G in much of the Indian market.