BSNL floats mega $4.5 bn tender for 45.5 million GSM lines

New Delhi, March 23 | Updated: Mar 24 2006, 05:30am hrs
As part of its expansion plan, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) on Thursday floated the biggest ever tender in the country for adding 45.5 million GSM lines spread over three years and envisaging an investment of about $4.5 billion (Rs 20,000 crore).

The total expansion plan is for 63.5 million lines but 18 million has been reserved under the PSU quota for the state-owned ITI Ltd, chairman and managing director BSNL AK Sinha said while addressing a press conference.

The entire capacity is proposed to be a mix of 2G and 3G services and at the end of the project it is expected that at least 50% facilities would have 3G services, Mr Sinha said.

However, 3G service hinges upon the announcement of a spectrum policy by the government. Mr Sinha said he hopes that clarity on spectrum policy will be there by June this year.

According to director finance BSNL SD Saxena, for financing the tender, the company will go for a small amount borrowing of Rs 5,000 crore.

GARGANTUAN TASK

An investment of about
Rs 20,000 crore needed
Entire capacity is to be a mix of 2G and 3G services
Only those who have a manufacturing base in India can participate

To encourage manufacturing base in the country, BSNL has made it mandatory that only those bidders can participate who have a manufacturing base here or get their equipment manufactured through contract manufacturers who either have a base here or propose to have one. The vendor has to further ensure a minimum of at least 30% value addition on the indigenously manufactured core equipments.

BSNL has opted for two stage bidding system, which entails planning, engineering, supply, installation and commissioning of lines. Mr Sinha said that the 45.5 million new lines would be rolled out in three phases.

The vendor would also be required to set up software centres in India for providing support during the lifetime of the equipment.

Remote access from a facility outside India shall not be generally allowed.