Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) board has approved ZTE and Nokia for the proprietary migration of 49,300 2G and 3G sites to 4G. The upgradation is worth about Rs 23 billion.

Considering the network expansion with existing multinational vendors as a limited option, BSNL said that the upgradation route on existing mobile network offers the shortest timeline for 4G rollout with 60 per cent of working sites that can be done through original equipment makers.

As per BSNL, its proposal was technically and commercially the best option available, and in phase-VIII.4, only Nokia and ZTE can do the proprietary up-gradation work at their respective sites as they are original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). According to BSNL, the upgradation of the existing radio network supplied by Nokia and ZTE respectively under Phase VIII.4 to 4G is proprietary in nature. Similarly, the upgradation of the existing radio network supplied by OEM ZTE under Phase VII and VII+ to 4G is proprietary in nature.

The telco added that the upgradation would see a rollout in 4-6 months in comparison to 18-20 months required through tender route. It also added that the cost of upgrading a 3G site to 3G+4G was nearly Rs 39,000 higher than the cost of setting up a new 3G+4G site as per L1 bidder rates.

Defending its stand, the telco added that in order to provide a level playing field to all vendors, BSNL can allow the bidders to replace it by swapping the existing upgradable sites. However, this would be costlier, more time consuming, and would cause service disruption or disturbance in a live network.