Light Reading

BSNL Expansion Delayed Yet Again

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
7/11/2007
50%
50%
Repost This

Indian operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) 's mobile network expansion is once again mired in controversy, prompting employees to strike Wednesday in protest at further delays in awarding equipment contracts.

After multiple hiccups in the bidding process, BSNL had finally been poised to place orders worth more than $4 billion for GSM equipment with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Nokia Solutions and Networks in May. (See BSNL to Award $4.5B Mobile Contracts.)

But India's new IT and Communications minister, Andimuthu Raja, has taken issue with the tender negotiated under predecessor Dayanidhi Maran, and is pushing the state-run operator to renegotiate the prices quoted by the vendors. (See India Roundup: Partnerships & Politics.)

A statement on the Ministry of Communications and IT's Website says that Raja "found some discrepancies in [the] processing of GSM tenders and accordingly, advised BSNL to look into those issues in the larger interest of BSNL."

Ericsson put in a bid to supply the equipment at $107 per line, and, as the lowest bidder, it would get 60 percent of the 45.5 million lines to be installed. Nokia was the second lowest bidder at $160 per line, so it would get the remaining 40 percent if it agreed to meet Ericsson’s price.

But Raja has questioned why BSNL would award the bulk of the contracts to Ericsson, when Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) is supplying GSM equipment to BSNL’s sister carrier, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) , at a price of $70 per line.

Raja has also asked BSNL to clarify why it disqualified Motorola from bidding, a move that resulted in Motorola taking the operator to court. (See Moto Stalls BSNL's Wireless Tender.)

Ericsson has reportedly refused to reduce its bid further, so BSNL is now under pressure to remove an order of 3G gear that was to be included in the contracts and focus on procuring cheaper GSM equipment. Raja argues that it's unnecessary for the carrier to install 3G lines when the government is yet to agree on a 3G policy and suggests that BSNL issue a separate 3G tender at a later date. (See India on Edge Over 3G.)

BSNL could end up having to invite fresh bids from all the major vendors, including Motorola and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763), which was also disqualified during the technical evaluation.

The ongoing saga led 400,000 BSNL employees to stage a one-day strike on Wednesday, demanding that the carrier award the contracts immediately. In a prepared statement V.A.N. Namboodiri, secretary general of the BSNL Employees' Union, claimed that "the intolerable delay will be the death knell of BSNL unless immediate action is taken. Not only is BSNL unable to provide new connections, but also its relevance in [the] telecom sector itself will be questionable unless immediate action is taken."

The statement notes that BSNL exhausted its capacity to provide new mobile connections in March. "BSNL was unable to provide even nominal connections during the last three months... sliding down to the fourth position" in market share, it says.

In response to the strike, the Communications and IT Ministry’s statement claims that union members are protesting "for reasons best known to them." BSNL is due to respond to Raja's queries within a week and Raja has assured the union that in making a decision on its response, "the interests of BSNL and its employees will be protected at any cost."

"During the intervening period till receipt of supplies under the tender, appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that BSNL does not suffer due to lack of network capacity," it says, without providing details.

BSNL, which has around 28 million mobile subscribers, has been attempting to kickstart this second phase of its network expansion since early 2006 as it struggled to keep pace with India's massive demand for telecom services. Carriers are now adding around 6 million new subscribers every month, prompting them to embark on massive expansion projects to increase capacity and relieve network congestion.

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
readlightly
50%
50%
readlightly,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:05:26 PM
re: BSNL Expansion Delayed Yet Again
Vendors- Pay the new minister and get started. Your "investments" with the old minister have been fruitless.....woe betide the continuing saga of India's bureaucracy.
Flash Poll
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Eyes Big Technology Shifts

4|16|14   |   03:02   |   (3) comments


US cable engineers are facing a lot of heavy lifting in the coming years, notes Light Reading Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick.
LRTV Custom TV
Maximizing Customer Experience & Assuring Service Delivery in an IP World

4|15|14   |   4:57   |   (0) comments


Steven Shalita, VP of Marketing, NetScout Systems, Inc., discusses the challenges cable/MSO operators face in assuring the delivery of new IP-based services. Key points include the value of proactively managing performance, and using rich analytics and operational intelligence to better understand service and usage trends, make smarter business decisions and ...
LRTV Documentaries
Bye-Bye DVD: Consumers Embrace Digital Video

4|10|14   |   04:17   |   (6) comments


Veteran video analyst Colin Dixon, founder and principal analyst of nScreenMedia, says research shows 56% are using digital video already.
LRTV Documentaries
Video: TW Cable Puts Multicast Gateways to the Test

4|8|14   |   04:13   |   (1) comment


Tom Gonder, a chief architect at Time Warner Cable, explains how its trial of multicast gateways is impacting IP-based video plans.
LRTV Custom TV
Managing & Monetizing Big Data in Operator Environments

4|7|14   |     |   (1) comment


At Mobile World Congress, Gigamon's Director of Service Provider Solutions, Andy Huckridge, and Heavy Reading Analyst Sarah Wallace discuss the 'big data' issues facing carriers and operators today.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Data Center Energy – Build Your Data Center in a Modular Way

4|7|14   |   2:13   |   (0) comments


Dr. Fang Liangzhou, VP Network Energy Product Line, shared his thoughts about the challenges for data centers during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Agile Network Solution – An Overview of Huawei's Agile Network Solution

4|7|14   |   2:31   |   (0) comments


Ajay Gupta, Director of Product Marketing, Networking Product Line, gives an overview of the Agile Network Solutions during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s eLTE Voice Trunking, Video and Data Applied for Railways

4|7|14   |   1:38   |   (0) comments


Gottfried Winter is the Sales Director at Funkwerk, a German specialist in GSM-r terminals and a long-time partner of Huawei. At CeBIT 2014, Winter talks to Light Reading about this partnership and the integration of enhanced voice trunking, video and data functions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
LeaseWeb Speaks Highly of Huawei's Datacenter Products

4|7|14   |   1:37   |   (0) comments


Rene Olde Olthof, Operations Director LeaseWeb, talks about the next data center transformation during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Documentaries
Comcast: Reshaping the Cable Network Architecture

4|3|14   |   07:11   |   (8) comments


Shamim Akhtar, Comcast's architect and senior director of network strategy, explains why the cable company is moving to a more distributed network architecture.
LRTV Custom TV
VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger at Mobile World Congress

4|1|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger speaks to Heavy Reading about the value of virtualization spanning from the data center to service provider networks to mobile devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Analysts' Impressions of Huawei SoftCOM at ONS 2014

4|1|14   |   1:11   |   (0) comments


After visiting the Huawei booth at ONS, Lee Doyle of Doyle Research gives his appraisal of Huawei's SoftCOM solution.
Hot Topics
BlackBerry's Chen: We're Not Dumping Devices
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/10/2014
AT&T's Going to Carolina With 1 Gig
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/10/2014
Cisco, Juniper Treating Gear Against Potential Heartbleed
Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, 4/11/2014
Cisco & VMware Are Apple & Google of SDN
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/14/2014
T-Mobile Petitions Operators to Kill Overages
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/14/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed