Global telecommunication equipment vendors have been barred by the Indian government from supplying gear for the communications ministry's INR 210 billion broadband venture, reports The Economic Times citing top executives aware of the development. The broadband venture involves the roll-out of a national fibre-optic network (NOFN) that will take internet to the hinterlands. Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and ZTE are missing from the Department of Telecom (DoT) certified list of vendors eligible to supply GPON, which is the selected fibre technology for this project.
The DoT has said that 100 percent domestic sourcing is mandatory for the project by 2014-15, and its list of certified vendors includes Himachal Futuristic Communications (HFCL), ITI, Tejas Networks, C-DoT, VMC Systems, Prithvi Infosystems, Sai Systems, United Telecoms and SM Creative. The project is overseen by a new entity called Bharat Broadband Network (BBNL) and is being executed by state operators BSNL and MTNL. The company will comply with the DoT's network security guidelines and norms to promote domestic manufacturing of network gear and will invite bids by mid-February, a top BBNL executive told the newspaper.
The Indian units of Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, Huawei, ZTE and Alcatel Lucent declined to reply to the newspaper’s queries on whether they were upset over their exclusion from the list of eligible GPON suppliers, but people close to these companies did not mince words. It is difficult to understand how the suggested levels of domestic sourcing for GPON equipment have been defined when they are yet to be launched or reach a certain level in terms of economies of scale in India, said a top executive with a international supplier. Another executive, who also declined to be named, claimed that the government may end up paying a higher amount for GPON gear as there was a 22 percent cost disadvantage for electronics manufactured in India compared to imports.
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