Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is preparing to launch a tender for the supply of GSM equipment worth over USD5 billion within the next two months. The Indian state-owned operator is inviting bids for the deployment of infrastructure to provide up to 60 million GSM connections, as part of a bid to achieve 20 million subscribers by the end of March 2006. It is currently the second biggest GSM operator with over ten million customers, behind Bharti with over eleven million.
Elsewhere, BSNL is asking for bids from private companies to operate as franchisees in rolling out fixed/wireless networks in rural areas using a ‘build, own, operate and transfer’ (BOOT) business model. The project, the first of its kind in India, is initially planned to be launched in the Tamil Nadu circle, and, depending on its success, will subsequently be rolled out to other regions.