BSNL hints fresh tender for 9.63 mn lines

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New Delhi, Nov 23: Facing a roadblock in its massive expansion plans amidst Finnish firm Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) not accepting orders for 9.63 million GSM lines, state-owned telecom giant Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) today said the option for fresh tender for these lines is still open.

Accoding to the tender rules, BSNL had to order 40 per cent of the total 22.75 million GSM lines to the second lowest bidder (in this case NSN) if it agreed to match the price of Ericsson.

''We are considering various options as Nokia Siemens has not given an unconditional acceptance. We are in talks with Swedish network major Ericsson and Nortel Corporation to give them the Nokia's order as well as negotiating with Nokia Siemens,'' BSNL's Chairman and Managing Director Kuldeep Goyal told reporters here on the sidelines of launching its free message service.

The deal with NSN is in trouble as it is reluctant to match Ericcson's 91 dollar per line price as it had originally quoted 177 dollars per line in its bid.

Last week, following BSNL's ultimatum, the NSN had submitted a proposal to provide the PSU with 9.63 million GSM lines.

Mr Goyal further said that another option is through add-on basis which will be provided through existing local partners in various zones, subject to refusal by both Nokia Siemens and Ericsson.

''If any of these options do not fructify, the company plans to go for a fresh tender without scrapping earlier orders,'' Mr Goyal said.

He also said that all the orders will be met within a month.

Mr Goyal said a separate order for 9 million lines would be placed by November-end with a consortium of Alcatel-Lucent and state-run telecoms equipment maker ITI.

BSNL had floated two billion dollar plus tender for 22.75 million GSM lines, a crucial move for company's expansion.

The issue relates to the BSNL's order for 22.75 million lines.

Ericsson, which had emerged as the lowest bidder, was to supply 60 per cent of the contract, with the tender conditions stipulating that the second lowest bidder (NSN) supply the remaining 40 per cent or 9.63 million lines.

In September, BSNL gave the contract to Ericsson for 13.12 million GSM lines at about 91 dollars (Rs 3,700) per line.

However, NSN does not want to enter into a deal at 91 dollars per line because it originally quoted 177 dollars per line in its bid.

UNI

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