[cellular news] India's BSNL has formally barred China's Huawei and ZTE from bidding in the latest round in its on/off tender for some 5.5 million GSM lines for its Northern and Eastern zones. According to a report in the Economic Times newspaper, the state-owned telco has specified that only Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks and Alcatel Lucent will be able participate in the bidding process.
"It is a fact that telecom gear from Western vendors are expensive when compared to Chinese vendors, but a government directive prevents us from placing any orders with telecom gear makers from China, especially if the equipment has to be installed in circles that share international boundaries," BSNL chairman and managing director Kuldeep Goyal told the newspaper.
The launch of the tender contract follows the dropping of the controversial and oft-delayed 93 million line tender earlier this year. The short-listed firms for the old tender were Ericsson, Huawei and HCL infosystems, which bagged the HT component of the deal. Ericsson's bid had been wracked by squabbles over the pricing, while Huawei had been hit by security concerns and allegations that the company was trying to impose unacceptable conditions on BSNL. Nokia Siemens Networks, Alcatel-Lucent and ZTE were disqualified. Nokia Siemens Networks later challenged its disqualification in the Court.
BSNL had apparently shortlisted Ericsson for 25-million lines for the North Zone and 18-million lines for the East Zone, while it had given Huawei 25-million lines for the South Zone. The Western Zone was in limbo with BSNL initially wanting to award the contract to Huawei, but then being told by the government not to.
The operator has also decided to adopt the managed services model followed by the private operators, although that has yet to be approved by the government department which oversees the company.
The government has been wary of the Chinese vendors, citing concerns about, repeatedly denied links between the vendors and the Chinese military.
India's BSNL Bans Huawei, ZTE from 5.5 Million Line GSM Contract