India's BSNL preparing another massive GSM tender

After finalizing its plans for a long-awaited but significantly scaled down mobile network contract, Indian operator BSNL is putting plans in place for another massive GSM tender, a Total Telecom report said.

The Total Telecom report quoted Indian Communications Minister Andimuthu Raja as saying that BSNL will open a new tender for 40 million to 50 million GSM lines, with award of the contract to take place within nine months, Reuters reported.

The move comes after BSNL backtracked on its planned massive GSM contract award, eventually slashing the size of the deal.

The report said that having been locked in negotiations with Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks over the price of its delayed 45.5 million-line deal, two weeks ago BSNL said it was ready to award a scaled-down 23 million-line contract to Ericsson, having apparently cut its Finnish rival out of the picture.

The 45.5 million-line deal was originally due to split 60:40 between the lowest and second lowest bidders, Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks, but a legal challenge from Motorola delayed the award of the contract.

Once the dispute was resolved, the telco came under pressure from the government to renegotiate the price of the deal. Ericsson had originally submitted a bid of $107 per line, a price that Nokia Siemens was expected to match.

Now the Swedish vendor will supply 14 million lines, in an initial 12-month phase, at a price of less than $100 per line.