State-run BSNL is soon going to submit details about its upcoming 4G tender to the empowered technology group (ETG), headed by principal scientific advisor K VijayRaghavan. A department of telecommunications (DoT) led technical committee has already given its recommendations regarding the tender. But BSNL has expressed some apprehensions regarding the recommendations, which bars procuring new 2G equipment among others.
The company can now raise its issues in front of the ETG and hope for a favourable hearing. The members of ETG include chairman of Atomic energy commission, chairman of Space Commission, chairman of DRDO, secretary of Ministry of Electronics and IT, telecom secretary and secretary of Department of Science and technology.
The ETG was set up to advise the government on its technology supplier and procurement strategy, to encourage both state and central government, to develop in-house expertise in policy and use aspects of emerging technologies and develop an indigenization roadmap for selected key technologies etc.
BSNL has already written to DoT that non-investment in 2G technology will hurt its revenues. Around 70% of the company’s customers are on 2G. BSNL’s warning came after the DoT committee recommended that no 2G equipment should be purchased by BSNL, even for replacement.
Discontinuation of the 2G services is going to hit BSNL the most as the company has been adding 2G customers over the last year, primarily due to Airtel and Vodafone Idea making a minimum monthly recharge mandatory for the subscribers. As a result, many low-income users shifted to BSNL, which still offers plans that come with a long-term incoming call facility.
Apart from that, BSNL has also expressed reservations around the proof of concept (showcasing of products and conducting trials) on 4G network by the domestic companies as it will not be possible to check every feature of the equipment in a short period of four months, which includes the time required by vendor for installation and commissioning of the equipment.
The company has written to the government that it should be fairly compensated for the losses that will accrue to it due to delays in rolling out 4G services, non-upgradation of about 36,000 radio equipment of Chinese vendor ZTE and deterioration of 2G services on account of non-procurement of 2G equipment, among others.