India’s Bharti Airtel has reportedly called on interested parties to submit bids for the outsourcing of the management of its fibre-optic cable network with a view to completing a deal before the end of March 2010, the Economic Times reports. The announcement follows similar indications in August 2009 that the telco was looking to outsource the management and maintenance of its fibre infrastructure, which as at January 2010 stretches for more than 100,000km. Commenting on the options for moving the process forward, Bharti’s CEO Manoj Kohli said: ‘We will form a joint venture and have a stake in the company to which we award this contract.’ The deal is estimated to be worth as much as USD1 billion over a five-year period. Having inked a deal with Alcatel-Lucent in April 2009 for the management of its landline and broadband business, the French-US vendor is the favourite to bag the contract, although Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks have also been mooted as possible winners.
Meanwhile, state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), which owns and operates India’s largest domestic fibre network, is also preparing to invite bids in February to outsource the management of its network; the telco expects to close a deal by the end of the second half of this fiscal year.