State-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s (BSNL’s) ‘mega-tender’ for 93 million GSM lines has hit another roadblock, after internal vigilance officials at the operator raised concerns over the pricing of quotes by Ericsson and Huawei, the two vendors shortlisted for the tender. The Hindu Business Line is reporting that both the Swedish and Chinese vendors have quoted more than INR7,000 (USD144.6) per 3G line and INR3,000 per 2G line, with the latter price not including IT, software, billing solution or passive infrastructure; by comparison BSNL’s previous contract for the rollout of new lines was awarded at a cost less than INR4,000 per line including all cellular infrastructure components. However, industry figures have said it is unfair to compare previous tenders with BSNL’s latest, noting that in this current phase of expansion vendors will be required to provide seven years of network maintenance compared to three for previous tenders. It is understood that vigilance officers have been told that negotiations are continuing with Ericsson in a bid to reduce the price.
BSNL’s ‘mega-tender’ has already run into trouble after Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) raised a legal challenge to the telco’s decision to disqualify its offer. NSN approached the High Court of Punjab and Haryana and the High Court of Andhra Pradesh seeking a direction against BSNL; the Andhra Pradesh High Court has given a stay on the contract for South zone.