The central government's policy think tank NITI Aayog has suggested that the telecom PSU Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) should opt for locally designed, developed and manufactured solution for its 4G network to achieve self-reliance in telecom. The NITI Aayog also advised the state-run telecom operator to redraft its tender to support local models of equipment.
According to reports, a meeting was convened under the leadership of VK Saraswat, member, technology, NITI Aayog on June 5 to discuss the possibility of deploying the 4G network of BSNL via the indigenously designed, developed and manufactured (IDDM) products. This meeting was attended by the CMD of BSNL, PK Purwar, several DoT officials and NITI Aayog members. Apart from these government officials, this meeting was attended by heads of local telco firms such as Tech Mahindra, Tejas Networks, C Dot, etc.
If this move is implemented, it could be a nightmare for telecom gear manufacturers, not just from China including ZTE and Huawei but also for Swedish major Ericsson and Finnish telecom giant Nokia as well as South Korean Samsung, as all of them are likely to be kept out of BSNL's upcoming 4G tender. Although Nokia and Ericsson manufacture telecom equipment in India, design and development of the products take place abroad and the intellectual property rights (IPR) rest with the respective countries.
This move comes in line with the recent DoT decision urging telcos like BSNL, MTNL and their subsidiaries to avoid using Chinese equipment on Thursday and mandated that the entities under its purview should buy 'Made in India' manufactured goods as a part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat, which PM Modi is asking citizens to embrace. Not only BSNL or MTNL, the telecom department is considering measures to bring down the dependence of private telcos on Chinese equipment.