BSNL’s workers propose to use Vodafone Idea’s infra to offer 4G

Tata Consultancy Systems (TCS) is currently deploying BSNL’s 4G network

Indian state-run operator BSNL’s workers union has urged the government to use rival operator Vodafone Idea’s network to initially offer 4G service in the country, according to local press reports.

In a recent letter to telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited Employee Union (BSNLEU) General Secretary P. Abhimanyu said that BSNL’s customers are porting out “massively” because the operator is not currently offering 4G services.

“We request that the government of India, by utilizing its status as the largest shareholder in Vodafone Idea, may kindly ensure that BSNL is allowed to immediately provide 4G service to its customers by utilizing the 4G network of Vodafone Idea,” Abhimanyu said in the letter.

The government of India is Vodafone Idea Limited’s largest shareholder, with a 33.1% stake. U.K.’s Vodafone and India’s Aditya Birla Group jointly own 50.4% of Vodafone Idea.

According to the reports, the potential use of Vodafone Idea’s 4G network will only be a temporary measure until BSNL’s 4G network is commissioned by Indian telecom equipment provider Tata Consultancy Systems (TCS). TCS is currently carrying out the rollout of BSNL’s 4G network and has a few thousand sites already up and running.

BSNL had previously planned pan-India 4G services for October 2024. However, local press reports stated that this date has been put back to December 2024 due to delays in the delivery and installation of 4G gear to BSNL by TCS.

Vodafone Idea recently confirmed it will need 6-7 months to launch its 5G services after securing funding, for which discussions with investors are underway. Local carriers Reliance Jio Infocomm is already offering 5G services at a national level while Bharti Airtel previously said it expected to complete its 5G rollout in March.

BSNL had an 8.08% share in the mobile subscriber market as of October 31, 2023, according to data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). The telco lost over 20 million subscribers in the last two years.

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