Reliance Jio has written to the Department of Telecommunications protesting against a tender that invites bids for building 2G and 4G towers, criticising the DOT’s decision to use legacy technology in fresh telecom constructions. The letter was first reported by PTI. The tender Jio is referring to, is to build 2G and 4G towers along highways and parts of the islands that haven’t been covered by any telecom infrastructure at all. Telecom coverage in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is sparse, and BSNL accounts for most of the wireless coverage.

Read the DoT’s tender

The government’s Universal Service Obligation Fund will pay the winning contractor for building the towers. Jio argues that the USOF administration’s logic of having to cover older feature phones doesn’t hold, since the people in these areas never had any wireless connectivity to begin with. Of course, this argument serves Jio well, since they are incapable of bidding for this tender — their entire network is built with 4G/LTE tech, and isn’t compatible with devices that don’t support 4G.

Excerpts from the letter

Here are some excerpts from the letter from PTI’s story. MediaNama wasn’t able to immediately verify these excerpts.

We are hugely disappointed by USOF Administration’s decision to continue with extremely unfair, arbitrary, discriminatory, restrictive and retrograde mandate to use 2G technology for voice in its recent tender for Andaman and Nicobar Islands despite numerous reasons for not mandating a legacy technology.

The restriction on latest technology would also impact cost efficiencies as there will be at least 30-40% incremental cost addition…For example, in ANI tender itself, the government could save around Rs 100 crore and possibly more, if this restrictive condition of the tender gets removed.

With no advantage in terms of additional service or otherwise, the present bid condition for mandatory 2G rollout is bound to cause additional losses in both capex as well as opex.

The tender, in the current form, is bound to result in a virtual monopoly of few incumbent operators, causing huge loss to the tune of thousands of crores to the exchequer.