BSNL releases EOI invitation for new WiMAX tender

BSNL, a state-owned fixed and mobile operator in India, has released a much tougher set of financial conditions for its new WiMAX tender.

BSNL releases EOI invitation for new WiMAX tender

Bsnl Releases Eoi Invitation For New Wimax Tender

In its EOI (Expressions of Interest) invitation for bids to offer services based on the 802.16e mobile WiMAX standard in 16 ‘Licence Service Areas’ across India, BSNL says each interested bidder must have a turnover of at least 100 Rs crore ($21m) for the last two financial years. The tender document, which is available from 12 June 2009, will only be issued after a submission of proof on turnover. The deadline for the tender submission is 4th August 2009.

BSNL had to make an embarrassing cancellation of its original WiMAX tender, as exclusively reported by, as the bidding process became embroiled in allegations of non-transparency. Some of the bidding companies in the original tender were believed to be fronts for individuals with close connections to the government.

The publicly-owned operator intends to run a franchise model to roll out WiMAX services at 2.5GHz across India. It is already using US-headquartered Soma Networks as a mobile WiMAX franchisee in the three lucrative circles of Gujarat, Maharashtra (including Goa) and Andhra Pradesh. Under the franchise arrangement, Soma pays for the WiMAX kit in exchange for access to BSNL infrastructure (such as tower sites and backhaul facilities) and a revenue-sharing deal on WiMAX services. Soma struck a 70-30 revenue sharing deal with BSNL in the kit-maker’s favour, although BSNL is reportedly considering a 75-25 revenue-sharing arrangement with franchisees in other circles.

Critics of the Soma award point out that BSNL did not issue an EOI for the tender in the three circles Soma won its WIMAX concession. It also irks the WiMAX Forum that Soma is deploying mobile WiMAX in FDD format, which is not yet a recognised WiMAX standard. The new EOI invitation makes it clear, however, that the new bidders must deploy Wave 2 certification 802.16e kit in TDD mode.

There were some reports in India’s local media that BSNL had cancelled its franchisee relationship with Soma. A spokesperson for Soma told, however, that this is not true and that rollout is continuing in its three franchise areas.

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