Nortel Named in Big Indian Deal
Media reports today suggest the state-owned telco may have already chosen the Canadian vendor as supplier for the 11-million-line GSM project.
“The order may be announced within a fortnight. Nortel has emerged as the lowest bidder,” N.K. Mangla, BSNL’s marketing director, told Reuters. “The evaluations have been completed. We are in the process of discussions with the vendor.”
Nortel is keeping its lips tightly sealed. "We don't comment on rumors or speculation," says a non-spokesman.
A win for Nortel would be a major surprise. Rivals LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICD) and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) were initially seen as strong contenders in light of previous deals with the carrier, and analysts also recently tipped Chinese vendors ZTE Corp. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. as potential candidates (see Chinese Look to India Win, Ericsson Does GSM in India, and Moto Wins Indian GSM Deal).
Research firm EMC gives BSNL a subscriber base of 5.8 million as of June 2004. “I expect BSNL will exhaust 15 million GSM lines by December 2005 and our user base will be 25 million customers,” claims Mangla.
The network expansion is in keeping with India’s standing as one of the world’s most explosive wireless markets. Lehman Brothers expects the region to reach 50 million subscribers by the end of 2004, and 100 million by August 2006 (see India Curries Wireless Favor).
— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung