The state-owned telecom firm BSNL today short-listed Vihaan Networks and Himachal Futuristic Communications Limited for installation of 2,817 mobile towers in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam with an outlay of about Rs 1,460 crore. “The bids for 2,817 mobile towers installation were opened today. VNL has emerged as the lowest bidder and HFCL second-lowest. The project will be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund. Total outlay for the project is about Rs 1,460 crore,” BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava told PTI.
The project is part of the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for the North-Eastern Region (NER), which was approved by the Union Cabinet in September 2014 and entails an estimated expenditure of Rs 5,336.18 crore and envisages providing 2G mobile coverage in identified uncovered areas and seamless mobile coverage along National Highways in the North-East.
Under this plan, 8,621 villages out of the 9,190 unconnected ones are to be covered by 6,673 towers.
The project has been divided into two parts — tough terrain that includes two districts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, the job for which has been given to BSNL involving installation of about 2,817 mobile towers and the rest that is for private telecom operators. “BSNL is executing this project on behalf of the government. We will now send the result to the USOF for its approval. We will place purchase orders after getting approval from the USOF,” Shrivastava said.
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As per the project condition, the lowest bidder, Vihaan Networks (VNL) in this case, will get to roll out 1,893 mobile towers in Arunachal Pradesh and HFCL will get a contract for installation of 924 mobile towers in two districts of Assam. Shrivastava said he expects this project to be complete by December 2018, but the final timeline will depend on approval from the USOF. The Bharat Broadband Network had also opened tender for installation of nearly 4,500 towers under the project but received no bids.