Taking a major step towards building a robust mobile network in the Northeast as envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BSNL has shortlisted VNL and HFCL for putting up over 2800 towers in phase I while the remaining 3800 towers will come up in phase II to cover all unconnected villages in eight states of the region…

NEW DELHI, APRIL 25, 2017: Finally, BSNL on Tuesday completed the tender process of installing 2,817 towers in the two Northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam (two remote districts) by shortlisting Vihaan Networks Ltd as L1 (lowest bidder) and HFCL as L2 (second lowest) for completing the project. The state-owned telecom company went ahead with the indigenous and green telecom technology by choosing the two Indian companies, which will further strengthen Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative of ‘Make in India’.

By going ahead with the Indian technology, BSNL has also tried to mitigate the threat of Chinese telecom players who have made deep inroads in to the Indian telecom infrastructure domain. Keeping in mind the sensitive and strategic importance of the Northeast bordering China, India government adopted extra careful approach while deciding on this crucial telecom infrastructure project in the region. Another important fact is that the BSNL has decided to go ahead with the same indigenous, cost-effective, green and virtually maintenance-free technology which is being successfully used in seven Naxalism-affected states.

The Department of Telecom has decided to cover all the eight states in two phases. While phase I has to be executed by BSNL which has now decided to go ahead with VNL and BSNL, though the project has been a bit delayed, phase II is likely to be given to private mobile operators who have their operations in the region.

In phase I, VNL and HFLC will install 2 ,817 mobile towers in Arunachal Pradesh and two remote and tough districts of Assam with an outlay of about Rs.1,460 crore. As per the project condition, the lowest bidder, now VNL, will get to roll out 1,893 mobile towers in Arunachal Pradesh and HFCL will get a contract for installation of 924 mobile towers in two districts of Assam. The project is likely to be completed by 2018-end.

“The bids for 2,817 mobile towers installation were opened today. VNL has emerged as the lowest bidder and HFCL second-lowest. The project will be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund. Total outlay for the project is about Rs.1,460 crore. BSNL is executing this project on behalf of the government. We will now send the result to the USOF for its approval. We will place purchase orders after getting approval from the USOF,” BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava told PTI.

The project is part of the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for the North-Eastern Region (NER), which was approved by the Union Cabinet in September 2014 and entails an estimated expenditure of Rs.5,336.18 crore and envisages providing 2G mobile coverage in identified uncovered areas and seamless mobile coverage along National Highways in the North-East. Under this plan, 8,621 villages out of the 9,190 unconnected ones are to be covered by 6,673 towers.

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