BSNL delays opening ‘mega-tender’ bids to 12 June

1 Jun 2006

India’s state-run telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has delayed the deadline for opening bids for its long awaited ‘mega-tender’ for 45.5 million new mobile lines, the world’s single largest mobile equipment contract. The closing date for opening bids has been pushed back by two weeks to 12 June after vendors requested more time to meet the numerous conditions of the tender.

The operator has issued a strict set of conditions for prospective bidders. The tender stipulates that all network elements must support both 2G GSM and 3G UMTS technologies and vendors must provide a seven-year timetable for implementation of the network. Successful parties will have to utilise around 30% Indian-manufactured core equipment and must establish local software centres for providing necessary support during the lifetime of the equipment; remote access from facilities outside India will not generally be allowed. Interested parties must have a minimum annual turnover of USD1.8 billion for the last two years and experience of supplying and rolling out GSM networks of more than 20 million lines, and in a minimum of ten countries, to be eligible to bid. In addition, bidders or their collaborators should have constructed at least two UMTS core networks in two countries, each with a capacity of at least five million lines.

The list of interested parties reads like a veritable who’s-who of mobile equipment vendors, with Nokia, Ericsson, Siemens, Nortel, Motorola, Lucent and Alcatel all expected to bid. In total, the contracts are expected to be worth between USD2.5 billion and USD4 billion. The tender has been reduced from an original 60 million to 42 million lines, after the contract to build out 30% of the network was handed to Indian Telephone Industries (ITI), the local partner of French vendor Alcatel, in January. ITI was awarded the contract for the expansion work in western India, with the remaining 42 million lines to be installed in the rest of the country.