After a number of failed attempts in recent years to expand capacity, state-owned Indian telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) has announced a tender for 14.37 million GSM lines. With the telco having set a 24 August 2011 deadline for bids, it has also noted that the tender is for ‘a turnkey implementation of the 2G/3G/Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in the North, East and South zones comprising of planning, financing, engineering, supply, installation, testing, commissioning and annual maintenance of GSM based cellular network together with 3GPP R8 Core, IMS, IN, VAS, Radio and the supply, installation, testing and commissioning of infrastructure and associated items for Core/Radio sites.’ Interested parties will be required to pay INR500,000 (USD11,000) for the tender document.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, BSNL has issued several unsuccessful tenders in recent years, most notably with its May 2008 93-million GSM line ‘mega-tender’ being temporarily placed on hold in January 2010 after legal challenges by Finnish vendor Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN); the tender was eventually scrapped in March 2010. More recently, October 2010 saw reports ZTE and Huawei were competing against NSN and Alcatel-Lucent for a tender in which BSNL was seeking to add some 3.37 million mobile lines in the north of the country, with a further 2.13 million in the east. Despite reports that Alca-Lu and ZTE had emerged as the leading bidders, the tender stalled, before the June 2011 announcement by BSNL chairman R.K. Upadhyay that it had been cancelled. At that date the executive pre-empted the most recent tender by stating that the company was now aiming to launch a tender for around 15 million 2G lines ‘very soon, on an e-tendering reverse auction basis.’