BSNL plans tender to finalize 4G network suppliers

India’s BSNL is planning to come out with a tender for inviting telecom network firms for supplying 4G network.
BSNL India networkReliance Jio is India’s #1 4G service provider. Bharti Airtel is in the second position in the 4G business, while Vodafone Idea is in the third position. BSNL could not generate enough mobile data revenue due to its absence in 4G business.

BSNL is selecting its 4G network supplier at a time when the company defaulted on payment to several suppliers. BSNL chairman and managing director PK Purwar recently said that the outstanding dues to suppliers were around Rs 10,000 crore.

LTE subscriptions in India are forecast to increase by 150 million during 2019 and pass GSM / EDGE as the dominant technology, according to Ericsson Mobility Report.

Mobile broadband technologies will account for 57 percent of mobile subscriptions during 2019 year, and the share of smartphone subscriptions is expected to have increased from 48 percent to 54 percent.  LTE is forecast to represent 80 percent of mobile subscriptions in India by the end of 2025.

BSNL is starting its 4G business at a time when India’s private telecom operators are gearing up for 5G spectrum auction that will be conducted early this year. 5G subscriptions are expected to become available in 2022 and will represent 11 percent of mobile subscriptions at the end of 2025, Ericsson said earlier.

BSNL will open the tender to all the telecom network companies including China-based Huawei and ZTE, and the successful company will be chosen based on the bidding, Financial Express reported. United States has already banned Huawei from supplying telecom equipment to domestic telecom operators due to security concerns.

Finland-based Nokia has rolled out BSNL’s 3G network. BSNL is likely to spend at least Rs 12,000 crore towards Capex for rolling 4G network across India – excluding Mumbai and Delhi metros.

BSNL has already written to the government to provide it with a sovereign guarantee of Rs 15,000 crore, which will allow it to raise money from the market. The guarantee is part of the Rs 70,000 crore revival package approved by the Cabinet for BSNL / MTNL in October last year.

The loss making company has already secured Rs 3,000 crore loan from the State Bank of India (SBI) last month. BSNL aims to clear dues to its vendors and pay salary to staff by using loan from SBI.

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