The world’s largest ever GSM network tender, worth about USD4 billion from BSNL, is underway. In June this year we reported that five equipment vendors were in the running after submitting bids for the so-called ‘mega tender’, a figure that has now dropped to just three contenders after ZTE and Motorola were disqualified for failing to meet ‘stringent technical criteria stipulated by the tender.’ The remaining vendors are Alcatel, Ericsson and Nokia, with the Swedish firm believed to have submitted the lowest bid of the three. ‘Based on the numbers announced we were the lowest,’ an Ericsson official, who would not be identified, told Reuters. ‘Evaluation is still underway.’ The lowest bidder will get 60% of the contract while second lowest will get the remaining 40%.
BSNL had originally planned to issue the contract in two parts, one for 40 million lines initially, and another for a further 20 million in 2007, but has since decided to combine the two. Between 25% and 30% of the lines will be set aside for 3G.