India’s major state-owned operator has confirmed the two vendors that will assist in its long-awaited network expansion. Network equipment will be provided by ZTE and Alcatel-Lucent, after a number of potential candidates pulled out of the bidding process.
A year ago, the operator stated its goal of expanding its network by 14.37 million lines, and invited bids from interested parties. The contract’s total value is believed to be around US$1.09 billion.
BSNL’s director for consumer mobile phone services, R. K. Agarwal, noted that the vendors “have already been handed” their purchase orders. ZTE meanwhile stated that the additional capacity would enable a further 10.5 million customers across India to join the network.
The state operator has been planning a network expansion for years, with insufficient capacity frequently blamed for its failure to turn a profit and remain competitive with heavyweight rivals such as Vodafone India and Bharti Airtel. However, BSNL has only recently received government clearance for its expansion.
Agarwal pointed out that ZTE offered the lowest price, with rivals Ericsson, NSN and Huawei pulling out of the bidding in June as they were unable to match the Chinese vendor’s low offer - US$842 million, according to reports.