Published On:February 21 2024
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"BSNL Issues Rs 65,000 Crore Tender for Phase-III BharatNet Project"

BSNL, the government-owned telecommunications company, has initiated a tender process worth approximately Rs. 65,000 crore for the implementation of the phase-III BharatNet project, as reported by the Financial Express. This initiative is part of the broader Rs. 1.4 trillion revamped BharatNet project aimed at improving connectivity in rural areas by both upgrading existing infrastructure and connecting additional gram panchayats. The tender's scope includes designing, supplying, constructing, and installing optical fibre cables, switches, routers, and other essential telecom equipment.

BSNL serves as the sole project management agency for the BharatNet project, which seeks to upgrade existing 164,000 gram panchayats and connect approximately 47,000 new gram panchayats under a new model. The tender process is expected to create an additional revenue stream for various companies, including Nokia, Ericsson, HFCL, STL, TCS, Tejas Networks, and several local telecom equipment players.

The tender evaluation process will involve extensive consultations with over 280 industry stakeholders to ensure its effectiveness and inclusivity. Bids are invited across 16 states and Union Territories, with packages divided into two categories.

Eligibility criteria for bidders include financial requirements and technical capabilities, ensuring that successful candidates possess the necessary experience and resources to execute the project successfully.

The net worth of those submitting bids for only one package must be between Rs. 50 crore to Rs. 375 crore, with a minimum average turnover of at least Rs. 325 crore over the last three financial years.

Smaller domestic players have reduced eligibility requirements, up to 70 per cent, for supplying equipment. Companies are currently evaluating the tender document and are expected to submit bids either individually or in consortium. Selected companies will be responsible for operating and maintaining the network in gram panchayats for a period of 10 years.

The deadline for companies to seek clarifications is March 3, while bids must be submitted by April 2. The tender bids will be opened on April 3.

The BharatNet phase-III project adopts a three-level architecture: internet leased line bandwidth, middle-mile connectivity, and last-mile connectivity. It aims to involve village-level entrepreneurs or Udyamis in providing last-mile connectivity to households on a revenue-sharing basis. BSNL aims to provide 15 million home fibre connections over five years using the BharatNet Udyami model.

The Union Cabinet approved the third package of Rs. 1.39 trillion for BharatNet in August, totalling the allocation to over Rs. 2 trillion. Previous allocations were made in 2017 and 2021.


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