BSNL awards Rs 1,000-crore Wi-Fi contract to L&T-led consortium

State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. has awarded a contract worth Rs 1,000 crore to a Larsen & Toubro-led consortium to set up more than 35,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots by March 2018. “We habsnlve decided to roll out phase two of the programme through our own capex (capital expenditure) model to deploy 35,500 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country by March 2018,” BSNL Chairman Anupam Shrivastava told ET. The contract was awarded through a recent open tendering process, according to BSNL. The company aims to offer data services through these hotspots at speeds faster than those offered over fourth-generation (4G) technology. L&T together with UTStarcom, Elitecore and Cisco will provide hardware solutions. Equipment has been procured and installation is expected to start this month, according to Shrivastava.
The company set up 4,500 Wi-Fi hotspots in the first phase of the programme through a revenue-sharing model with local partners and systems integrators. “We have successfully installed 4,500 Wi-Fi hotspots to test the technology. Data sessions of our mobile customers can be transferred seamlessly to Wi-Fi network which works as a 4G hotspot,” Shrivastava said. San Jose-based Cisco Systems will install access points for the initiative, while Elitecore, a part of the Pune-based Sterlite Technologies, will provide the service management platform, which includes data analytics to help the telco run advertisements from local merchants to generate revenue. The Wi-Fi programme is one of BSNL’s major thrust areas as it seeks to take steps to digitally transform the country to allow 1.3 billion Indians with affordable internet access.

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