Six telecoms gear makers, including Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks, have bid in a tender potentially worth $9 billion to provide wireless infrastructure to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL).
BSNL Chairman Kuldeep Goyal on Wednesday said Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp, Alcatel-Lucent and Nortel Networks had also bid for some or all of the tender for 93 million GSM lines.
"Only Motorola is not there, other major vendors are there," Goyal told reporters after the bids were submitted.
The bids will first be evaluated on technical parameters and only those shortlisted will be passed on to the second round where the prices quoted by each firm will be compared.
Goyal said he expected the first orders, for 33 million lines, to be placed by the end of the year or in early 2009.
When asked if the winning bid would be below $100 a line, Goyal said: "Yes, that's what we think."
BSNL last year ordered around 13 million lines from Ericsson at about $91 a line, part of a tender for 23 million lines.
Both Ericsson and second-lowest bidder Nokia-Siemens Networks declined to meet the rest of the tender at that price.
"Ninety (dollars), I would not like to say anything," Goyal said when asked if the bid would be below the price charged by Ericsson last year.
BSNL's lack of infrastructure has hampered its capacity to add wireless subscribers, and it has fewer mobile users than rivals Bharti Airtel Ltd, Reliance Communications and Vodafone Plc-controlled Vodafone Essar.
By end-July, BSNL had 42.5 million mobile subscribers on its networks, compared with Bharti's 72.1 million, Reliance's 52.5 million and Vodafone Essar's 51 million.