BSNL plans to invest $750M for nationwide WiMAX connectivity

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) plans to splash out US$ 750 million on WiMax networks to cover one sixth of India's 1 billion plus population. BSNL has already issued the first tender for WiMAX equipment.

BSNL will actually two tenders for deploying the WiMAX project nationwide. Last week, BSNL issued the first tender, which focuses on covering small towns and rural areas of the country. BSNL is willing to establish around 1,000 mobile WiMax base stations based on IEEE 802.16e technology and 100,000 pieces of customer premises equipment. The project would be mostly funded by the Government of India's universal service obligation (USO) fund for broadband access.

The second tender will cover some certain cities, where broadband demand is high and it would be issued in next two or three months. Under this project, BSNL the has following plans:

  1. To cover 25,000 villages
  2. To provide broadband access to 40,000 primary and secondary schools
  3. To set up 50,000 WiMax kiosks

It is expected that BSNL's tender will issue the tender of worth US$ 300 million. Regardless of the actual value of the contract, BSNL's tender will sure receive huge interest from vendors including Alcatel-Lucent, Motorola Inc, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Nortel Networks Ltd., Nokia Siemens Networks , Aperto Networks Inc. , Alvarion Ltd., and Telsima.

In another announcement BSNL stated that the company is already receiving MHz of spectrum at the 2.5 GHz frequency band and expects the 2.5 GHz licenses to be issued in the next two to three months.

The first tender for rural broadband coverage has gotten off to a shaky start, though. It has been postponed for about three weeks, because the government has not yet issued the spectrum or the policy for broadband wireless access. The policy, at least, is expected in the next month.