Officials aware of the details said the telco will soon give the purchase order to TCS for 100,000 sites.
As part of the deal, along with setting up the 4G sites, TCS will have to maintain the network for nine years.
An official in the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said BSNL, with some 111 million wireless subscribers, will aim to launch 4G services by December or January, and gradually roll out the network across the country.
The official added that TCS had proposed last month to supply overall core equipment within 12 months of the purchase order, while radio equipment supply will be completed over a period of 18-24 months.
The supply will be staggered as TCS has to ramp up production of radio equipment and there is a shortage of chipsets.
Tejas Networks, a unit of Tata Sons, the parent company of TCS, is expected to locally manufacture the network equipment for BSNL.
After the start of 4G services, BSNL is aiming to launch 5G services by August next year. The expanded rollout of 4G and 5G will happen simultaneously, officials said.
The Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT), a government-owned telecommunications technology developer, has partnered with TCS to develop a core 4G solution as well as radio equipment.
With the launch of 4G services, BSNL expects to reverse the attrition of customers.
The loss-making firm was forced to cancel a tender for 4G services in 2020 due to restrictive conditions for domestic firms. Subsequently, it was directed to only utilise equipment from domestic companies.
The latest 4G deal comes in the wake of the Rs 1.64 lakh crore bailout package for the carrier, which includes grant of spectrum, 4G launch and funding of operations and capital expenses, among other elements.
The government believes that a successful rollout of BSNL’s 4G network could propel India into a coveted club of countries — such as the United States, Sweden, Finland, South Korea and China — that have developed telecom network technology.
The market is dominated by the likes of Sweden’s Ericsson, Finland’s Nokia and China’s Huawei, while S. Korea’s Samsung is also emerging as a key player.
Analysts reckon that a local 5G network solution also being developed by the Indian combine can place it in contention for a share of the $500-billion international telecom equipment market.
IT and communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw recently told ET that India aims to become a leader in telecom technology.
“In three-four years from now, we will see India emerge as a major designer and manufacturer of telecom gear. Our 5G technology stack would compete with the best in the world,” Vaishnaw said.
Over the last few years, the government has been pushing for self-reliance in the telecommunications sector due to national security concerns.
The political and military face-off with China has also led to Chinese firms such as Huawei and ZTE being barred from participating in India’s 5G rollout, while stiff conditions have been imposed on others.
TCS chief operating officer N Ganapathy Subramaniam recently told ET that the deal with BSNL will allow the IT service provider to take its telecom offerings to potential global clients and compete with network gear makers such as Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung.