HFCL, Sterlite Technologies lowest bidders for supplying equipment to BSNL

Monday, May 23, 2016

Homegrown telecom gear and optic fibre cable makers Himachal Futuristic Communications (HFCL) and Sterlite Technologies have emerged the lowest (L1) bidders for supplying nearly Rs 13,000 crore of equipment to Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL), which is building a mega communications network for the armed forces.

HFCL has put in price bids, aggregating Rs 4,224 crore for supplying optical transmission devices (Rs 1,448 crore) and geographical information-based network management systems (Rs 2,776 crore), while Sterlite Technologies has put in price bids aggregating Rs 8,400 crore for supplying core IP gear to BSNL, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told ET.

Sterlite Tech has put in L1 price bids of Rs 4,100 crore and Rs 4,300 crore for supplying IP network systems to the army and navy respectively.

BSNL will deploy Sterlite's equipment for creating an IP backbone for the army and navy that uses a technology known as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), said the first person cited.

BSNL is expected to place advance purchase orders (APOs) on HFCL and Sterlite shortly, the second person cited said.

An email query to BSNL chairman Anupam Shrivastava did not elicit a response.

When contacted, HFCL Chairman Mahendra Nahata declined to comment on the company emerging the lowest bidder for supplying optical transmission and network management systems for the defence ministry telecom venture.

In response to ET's queries, a Sterlite Technologies spokeswoman said the company "is bidding for various government tenders to deliver a robust Digital India infrastructure through its smart network solutions," adding that "these bids are at multiple levels for a varied set of requirements".

The defence telecom venture, internally known as the 'network for spectrum (NFS)' project, is crucial since the armed forces will migrate all its communications needs to the proposed alternate 60,000-km optic fibre network and free up more bandwidth for commercial mobile telephony.

The defence ministry had vacated some 3G airwaves six years ago after it was assured that the telecom department would keep its side of the deal in rolling out an alternate communications network through BSNL. This had enabled DoT to auction 3G airwaves back in 2010.


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