If the highly eventful Indian telecoms space were a montage, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited’s (BSNL) latest shot would stand out for pulling a trick that is both staid and stupid. The state-backed telecom operator has invited bids for its Rs 8,000 crore (~$1 billion) 4G network build-out and expansion. The budget comes out of the Rs 69,000 crore (~$9 billion) revival plan the Indian government cobbled together last year after deciding to keep the telco alive for reasons of national security and self-reliance.
BSNL’s Rs 8,000 crore tender—Make for India, not Make in India
New Delhi machinery is in motion to amend the state-owned telco’s 4G tender, which is myopic at best, skewed at worst. Whatever action the Dept of Telecom takes, it will impact billions of dollars of public procurement in the near future
BSNL just got rapped on the knuckles for a Rs 8,000 crore tender to build out its 4G network
The tender’s stipulations—like scale across multiple countries and minimum turnover—effectively exclude Indian bidders
All told , industry insiders expect the government telecoms project to cost Rs 50,000 crore over the coming years
If played right, this could be an opportunity to build a local telecoms ecosystem and end India’s dependence on foreign telecoms giants