BSNL is expecting to complete its portion of mobile network roll-out project, funded by the universal service obligation fund in the North-East by 2018-end. The project was approved in September 2014 but it came to BSNL in April 2016. BSNL is expecting to place execution order in April, after which roll-out of the project will start in July and should be completed by December 2018.
The project envisages providing 2G mobile coverage in identified uncovered areas and seamless mobile coverage along national highways in the North-East region. Under this project, 8621 villages out of the 9190 unconnected villages are to be covered by 6673 towers. The project has been divided into two parts where tough terrain, which includes two districts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, has been given to BSNL for installing about 2100 mobile towers and the rest was kept for private telecom operators.
Bharat Broadband Network opened tender for installing about 4500 towers under the project after two years in 2016 but received no bids. Technical bids were conducted but after discussion, it has been decided to retest telecom equipment to generate more competition. The government wants to assure that fair opportunities have been given to bidders in the fray. Retesting will be completed in March, after which execution order will be placed to successful bidders in April.