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BSNL readying WiMax tender for rural broadband project

The Hindu Business Line:  June 04, 2009

7,000 base stations to set up common service centres in villages.

For speedy roll out

BSNL will invite Expression of Interest from equipment manufacturers to supply WiMax gear

The telecom major will float a new tender for appointing franchisees

New Delhi: To boost its plans to roll out WiMax-enabled broadband services in the rural areas, state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd will shortly launch a Rs 1,500-crore project to buy 7,000 WiMax base stations to set up Common Service Centres (CSC) across the country.

The tender document for this project is being prepared and BSNL will invite Expression of Interest from equipment manufacturers to supply WiMax gear.

This comes even as BSNL scrapped another tender for appointing franchisees for rolling out WiMax-based broadband services across the country. This project had run into controversy after it came out that five of the six short-listed bidders had similar corporate details, including contact e-mail, address, lawyers and auditors. BSNL will float a new tender for appointing franchisees.

Three phases

The PSU plans to roll out WiMax in three phases. Phase One will set up the broadband infrastructure in the rural areas. A part of this project has already been given to the Chinese vendor Huawei and a relatively unknown entity from Tamil Nadu, Gemini. The two vendors are to set up 1,000 base stations to connect an equal number of remote blocks. The new tender for another 7,000 base stations will be floated in a week.

In the second phase, BSNL plans to roll out broadband infrastructure in the urban areas. While Huawei has been selected for rolling out services in Punjab, Telsima has emerged the lowest bidder in Kerala. The PSU is expected to award the contracts to these vendors shortly. Tender for other circles will be floated later.

The third project was on a franchisee model which has now got scrapped.

Only Two operators

BSNL and MTNL are the only two operators to have got the spectrum for rolling out WiMax broadband services.

However, neither has been able to get going on the WiMax project though each has launched third generation mobile services. Cancelling the franchisee tender will only delay further the broadband services roll out.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.