Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has received letters of interest from at least 20 companies, including Intel, Motorola, Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent, to be franchisees for the roll-out of its WiMax-based broadband service.
Smaller and relatively unheard Indian firms such as Aban Informatics, Adina Telecom, Cals Refineries, Wellcom Communications and Digitelco Communications have also lined up for the bidding.
BSNL is planning to roll out WiMax-based broadband services on a revenue-sharing partnership basis. Successful bidders will use BSNL's spectrum and infrastructure to offer WiMax-based broadband services.
Foreign companies, however, cannot directly own the entire franchisee. So companies like Intel and Motorola will have to partner with an Indian entity for participating in the project.
Sources say that several unknown Indian companies have offered to participate in the project in the hope of partnering with foreign bidders.
Recent investments by some Indian promoters have given them huge profits and the wider interest may be due to that.
BSNL has earmarked around $750 million for its WiMax roll-out. The franchisee will be selected after a two-stage bidding process. The bidder shall submit both techno-commercial and financial bids at the initial stage. BSNL will choose a franchisee for each circle.
BSNL has already chosen US-based SOMA Networks to roll out WiMax across three States - Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, without floating a tender.
BSNL wants to be the first to roll out wireless broadband on the 2.5-Ghz band. State-run BSNL and MTNL have got automatic allocation.