State-run telecom service provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd has placed an advance purchase order with Huawei of China on mobile equipment for 20 million GSM lines in the south zone. The PSU is also in advanced negotiations with Ericsson for the north and east zone.
In the first phase, Huawei has been given a contract for eight million 2G lines in the south zone, BSNL Chairman Kuldeep Goyal told reporters in Delhi.
In the north region, BSNL would award 25 million lines, while in the east zone, the order would be for 18 million lines. The tender was for awarding 93 million GSM lines for over Rs 30,000 crore.
"We are in advance stages of discussions with Ericsson and we hope to finalise it soon," Goel said, adding the firm was not contemplating retendering at the moment. The Department of Telecom has suggested the entire contract be re-tendered, to allow choice among more bidders.
For the west zone, Huawei was the lowest bidder but BSNL did not place the order with it, because security concerns were raised in the government on placing any order with a Chinese company in border areas.
On the CCEA decision to go for listing of all profit-making PSUs, which will include BSNL as well, he said the timing depends on the government. "The government has taken the decision and as and when it decides for listing of BSNL, the process will be taken forward and we will have a dialogue with employees," Goyal said.
BSNL employees unions have been opposing any listing of the PSU's shares.
Asked if BSNL has started due diligence on Zain Telecom and the Vavasi Group (BSNL has been invited to partner with Vavasi and Malaysia's Al-Bukhary Group to buy a 46 per cent stake in Kuwait's Zain Telecom), Goel said the company has sought some information from the latter, after which it would go ahead with the due diligence on Zain. He declined to speak on the information sought on Vavasi. He said the company could also think of going ahead on Zain if talks with Vavasi fail.
Meanwhile, BSNL has announced launch of a per-second billing plan for prepaid subscribers. Under this, users can make local and STD calls within the BSNL network at 1 paisa per second, while 1.20p a second would be charged for calls outside the network. The users would have to purchase a voucher of Rs 45 for availing the plan.