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TCS can Emerge as the First Choice for BSNL 4G Rollout

After months of speculation, it looks like Tata Consultancy Services, TCS, might become the first choice for BSNL 4G rollout.

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Hemant Kashyap
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BSNL 4G

After months of speculation, it looks like Tata Consultancy Services, or TCS, might become the first choice for BSNL 4G rollout.

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TCS the Leading Name for BSNL 4G

Senior officials from BSNL told BusinessLine that in a meeting between DoT and BSNL, TCS was "unanimously suggested" for 4G deployment. This comes soon after the Tata-owned company successfully launched a core testing network in Chandigarh.

In late August, reports had come in that TCS and C-DoT, along with Tejas Networks, have moved into "pole position" to deploy the much-awaited 4G network. At the same time, L&T, Tech Mahindra and HFCL were dropped out of the race. During the technical discussions, the latter trio admitted to issues, saying that the chances of failure are "high". On the other hand, officials have said that TCS, C-DoT and Tejas have had a far smoother trial run.

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An official further added that the TCS consortium will complete the first PoC by 30th November. The companies have started operating the network, turning on the core and the RAN. However, Pravin Kumar Purwar, Chairman and MD, BSNL, said, "Proof of concept is being implemented. TCS is one of the five firms".

This January, BSNL had released a detailed notice inviting e-tenders for planning, testing, deploying and maintaining its 4G network. It had invited tenders across 4 operational zones, along with Delhi and Mumbai circles, for 57,000 sites on a turnkey basis. It had also sought a PoC for Indian companies and consortiums to test their network quality.

BSNL’s 4G network launch has been delayed by at least 5 years following a series of controversies involving homegrown vendors and multinational rivals. The telco had to scrap the NIT it released in March last year; the local telecom companies had alleged restrictive conditions back then.

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BSNL Looking to Work on 4G and 5G Together

BSNL has to launch 4G as soon as it can, as that is the only way it can stay competitive. However, the delays associated with it are staggering; private telcos are running 5G trials when BSNL is looking at 4G PoCs.

Back in August, Rajkumar Upadhyay, Executive Director and Board chairman, C-DoT, had said that it has a clear roadmap to upgrade BSNL’s network. He said that the companies will upgrade BSNL 4G to BSNL 5G NSA by 2022. And by 2023, the network will become standalone. The mandated 5G upgradability, and the lack thereof, became the reason why the other consortiums dropped out of the competition.

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TCS has, with Bharti Airtel, developed an O-RAN based 5G NSA/SA Core, along with integrating an indigenous telecom stack. This strategic partnership has bolstered TCS' claim for BSNL 4G, and it is looking increasingly likely that it will achieve the same.

c-dot tcs tejas-networks bsnl-5g bsnl-4g bsnl tata-consultancy-services
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