The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is setting up an eight-member committee to recommend in two weeks technical specifications for the controversial 4G tender of state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL). The order was handed down on Monday.

The move comes following BSNL’s cancellation of its previous tender, after home-grown companies complained to the government that the terms of the tender were prepared in a way to keep them out and support global players.

They alleged the tender did not meet the norms of public procurement (preference to make in India) order of 2017, which is applicable to BSNL also. As part of the terms of reference, the committee has been asked to recommend core domestic components that can be deployed on the BSNL network. Secondly, it would examine the hardware and software aspects of the proposed upgrade by BSNL of 2G and 3G RAN to 4G.

Thirdly, it has been asked to recommend modifications to the technical specifications prepared by BSNL for the tender and to help in refining the 4G specifications for it. The committee, apart from three members of the DoT, includes the directors of IIT Madras and IIT Kanpur, a representative of the National Security Council Secretariat, and a director each of BSNL and MTNL. Deploying the 4G network (the government has said it will give them spectrum) is crucial for reviving BSNL and MTNL against tough private sector competitors. Any delay, say analysts, could jeapordise that

The move could, however, have an adverse impact on global gear manufacturers of China like Huawei and ZTE and European giants Ericsson and Nokia. They fear it might keep them out of bidding. The Aayog had recommended that a national-level technical committee under a technically competent wireless expert would be formed to look into the specifications and the tender had to be redrafted and re-tendered in the IDDM mode without any restrictive clauses.

It said the tender should be executed in three phases. System integrators should show proof of concept, say, in a location like the Andamans, with the existing products.

This should be followed by deployment in a few circles with a set of features. The third phase will be scaling up the rollout in the country with the dual features of 4G and the potential upgrade to 5G in future.

courtesy Business standard-