The Hindu Business Line is reporting that state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has shortlisted vendors for its largest tender ever of 93 million GSM lines. It is understood that China’s Huawei made the shortlist for contracts covering the west, east and south zones, while Sweden’s Ericsson is still in the running for the north and east zones. Vendors including ZTE, Nokia Siemens Networks and Alcatel Lucent, however, have been disqualified from the tender on technical grounds. With only a single vendor qualifying for three of the zones – west, north and south – BSNL will likely offer the contracts for those zones at the prices quoted by the two vendors. However, the operator is unable to award the contracts immediately, as it is still awaiting clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding security issues; the ministry has set up a committee to evaluate the backgrounds of bidders before contracts are awarded having raised concerns regarding foreign vendors.
BSNL however has written to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) asking for permission to award Ericsson the contract for the north zone in the face of what it claims is an acute shortage of GSM capacity in the region. The operator has argued that Ericsson is already an established vendor on its network and therefore does not need further security clearance.