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BSNL loses tender for providing connectivity in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh; DoT to invite fresh bids

July 26, 2019
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State-run telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has lost the mandate to provide mobile services in Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam under a tender bagged earlier. The move comes after an inter-ministerial committee headed by NITI Aayog chief executive officer, Amitabh Kant recommended the same.

The committee was constituted to look into the progress under the project and make recommendations to ensure good quality connectivity particularly in these areas which are strategically important for the country. To this end, the inter-ministerial committee has recommended the deployment of 4G services in both the states to enhance digital connectivity. However, BSNL does not have access to 4G spectrum and has been requesting the government, which is yet to approve its request.

The government had awarded the tender to BSNL on a nomination basis in 2016 after no other telecom operator placed bids. The project entailed rolling out 2,817 mobile towers on nomination in Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam. The total outlay of the project was Rs 14.6 billion and it was being funded by the Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF).  However, there has been very little progress on this tender because of large number of litigations and difficult terrain, which leads to an increase in the survey time.

According to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the USOF will soon be coming out with a competitive tender to select a service provider to implement the project.

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