India Sources Bidders for Worlds largest Telecom Tender

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Sept. 11 – India is the world's second-largest mobile market, with nearly 300 million wireless users in July and more than 8 million users signing up each month. So when the country's largest public sector telecom company plans to expand, 25 million lines each in north, west and south of the country, and 18 million lines in the east,it causes a great stir amongst the world's telecom company's. The state owned telecom service provider said bidders can win a maximum of 46.5 million lines, half of the tender.

Reuters reported that Telecoms equipment makers Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks are competing with four other firms in a tender potentially worth US$9 billion to provide wireless infrastructure to India's Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL). Bidders in the tender for a total of 93 million GSM lines, the world's largest such order, also include China based Huawei Technologies and Alcatel-Lucent networks.

BSNL was until recently India's top telecoms firm by total subscribers, due to its 30 million-plus fixed-line users. But a slow pace of mobile subscriber additions, at times a quarter of its competitors, meant it lost the number one position to Bharti in July.

The bids will first be evaluated on technical parameters and those shortlisted will move to the second round, where the prices quoted by each firm will be compared.

BSNL last year ordered around 13 million lines from Ericsson at about $91 a line, part of a tender for 23 million lines. Both Ericsson and second-lowest bidder Nokia-Siemens Networks declined to meet the rest of the tender at that price.

Ericsson and Nokia Siemens topped the league table for network equipment revenue in India in the year to March 2008, followed by Alcatel-Lucent, according to data compiled by technology publisher CyberMedia.

Ericsson had revenue of 80 billion rupees (US$1.8 billion) in India during the year, with Nokia Siemens Networks closely following at 77.79 billion rupees, according to the publication.