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How ‘BSNL PoC’ is ‘good news’ for telecom startups in India and BSNL itself

State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (

BSNL

) could reportedly become the home-ground for the country’s telecom startup ecosystem and homegrown original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to test the viability of their solutions in a

sandbox environment

. According to a report in Economic Times, to promote indigenously designed and developed telecom technologies, the Centre has introduced a ‘

BSNL PoC

(Proof of Concept) policy’ which aims to create a framework for Indian startups and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) for testing and developing their products and solutions in a plug & play network sandbox environment.

The ‘BSNL PoC (Proof of Concept) policy’ is expected to be a win-win for the telecom startup ecosystem in the country as well as BSNL.
As per the policy, BSNL will offer the applicants a sandbox to test their products in a fully functional telecom network set-up. Once the products/solutions have established proven-ness, they shall be deployable in networks. The document further said that this will also “enable BSNL to broaden its base for sourcing products & solutions….”
BSNL’s strict ‘made-in-India’ condition

RK Bhatnagar, director general, Voice of Indian Communication Technology Enterprises (Voice) told ETTelecom, “While equipment needs to be made in India for getting deployed in the BSNL network, BSNL would not want to straightaway award any contract plainly on this ground.” He added that while private telecom companies are at liberty to procure equipment the way they prefer. This policy will also allow BSNL to, at least, assess the viability of an Indian solution through a proof-of-concept. Voice represents Indian telecom companies and vendors, including the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT), Coral Telecom, Saankhya Labs, HFCL, Lekha Wireless Solutions, and Velmenni, among others.

Bhatnagar further said that BSNL cannot blindly award an order basis

Make in India

only. “Even private companies adopt a similar route (of PoC)…and only after successful validation in networks, the vendors get an opportunity to participate in a tender process,” he added.
To boost Desi startups
Also, the larger telecom startup ecosystem in the country has not had much luck in winning commercial contracts with incumbent telcos. The report said that startup equipment makers are often rarely able to progress beyond a trial stage, or the deployment of their solutions is limited to a small scale which does not translate into a meaningful and sustainable revenue.
In addition, it remains an uphill battle to raise money for telecom research and development (R&D) which would, in theory, help

telecom startups

boost their competitive edge in the long run.
According to the policy, the telecom PSU is already conducting proof-of-concept (PoC) for different network elements from various original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). It is also empaneling various partners to provide end-to-end telecom solutions to its enterprise customers.