India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is gung-ho about a locally developed 4G stack and says that it’s not only an economical alternative to European vendors like Ericsson and Nokia, but also will help address security-related concerns such as backdoors in telecoms gear.
The 4G technology has been co-developed by state-run Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) and IT major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Both companies have deployed the trial 4G network for state-run telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) in Ambala and Chandigarh cities of Northern state Punjab.
“The [indigenous] 4G technology is very critical for India from a security and economic perspective, because you will get to ‘make in India‘ and also you will ensure that there are no hidden backdoors which can be exploited later on,” DoT secretary K Rajaraman was quoted as saying by the Economic Times.
He believes that both TCS and C-DoT would be able to complete the proof of concept (PoC) for local 4G technology by April, which will pave the way for pan-India commercial roll out.
TCS has partnered with a number of companies as part of its consortium to develop the 4G stack along with C-DoT, which designed and developed core equipment.
TCS will also act as the master system integrator for BSNL.
TCS also developed an end-to-end 5G stack, which Airtel will pilot soon and deploy once 5G spectrum is available for commercial services.
“I have personally visited some of the sites. Performance is good. I think there are a few more tests which have to be completed while the most critical ones are all done,” Rajaraman told the publication.
Both companies, however, have already missed the initial 120-day deadline to complete the PoC due to technical difficulties.
India’s Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan earlier this month said that BSNL will place the purchase order (PO) for 4G equipment in April.
Chauhan said that the government took a slew of measures to revive BSNL and the telco’s quality of services would also improve with the launch of its 4G services.
The C-DoT had previously told Indian media that the consortium has a “seamless network scalability roadmap”, which would enable BSNL to launch 5G non-standalone (NSA) by end of 2022, and to 5G standalone (SA) by 2023.
BSNL’s survival and competitiveness depends on the launch of 4G services. Its existing 2G and 3G network of was largely built by Chinese vendors ZTE and Huawei, although Nokia and Ericsson have also supplied equipment for the network. According to reports, ZTE and Huawei were barred from participating in the tender or any network expansion because of security and geopolitical concerns.