BSNL launches tender for 5.5 million GSM lines

24 May 2010

State-owned Indian telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has launched a tender for 5.5 million GSM lines, inviting three foreign vendors to submit bids, the Economic Times reports. BSNL has called on Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) and Alcatel-Lucent, all three of which took part in the cellco’s failed 93-million GSM line ‘mega-tender’, to make offers for the tender. It is notable however that Huawei, which also took part in the mega-tender, has not been invited to submit an offer; such a decision is believed to stem from the Indian government’s alleged block on the acquisition of telecoms equipment from Chinese vendors and BSNL’s belief that obtaining security clearance for such a deal would be difficult.

Responding to queries regarding the size of this most recent tender in comparison to its earlier efforts, BSNL said that the small order would allow it to meet demand in the short-term.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in March 2010 BSNL confirmed that it was scrapping the USD10 billion mega-tender following repeated delays and disputes. The decision was thought to have been prompted by the revelation that a panel led by Sam Pitroda, an advisor to the prime minister on infrastructure and innovation, had backed a report by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) that the telco should abandon the tender. In its findings the CVC argued that the disqualification of NSN, ZTE and Alcatel-Lucent from the bidding process meant that the only two remaining vendors, Ericsson and Huawei, were guaranteed to win the tender, which in turn assured that BSNL could therefore not obtain the best price due to a lack of competition for the contract.