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Friday, Sep 13, 2002

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BSNL's broadband offering only in Nov

G. Rambabu

NEW DELHI, Sept. 12

BHARAT Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has put off its broadband offering for its wireline customers across the country by a month.

According to official sources, the proposed services which are to include TV broadcast of 40 to 50 simultaneous channels, interactive TV, video-on-demand, video conferencing, audio-on-demand, multi-party audio- conferencing, unified messaging and high-speed Internet access, to be offered to its subscribers by September-end, have now been scheduled for launch in early November.

The telecom behemoth, which proposes to provide these services to its wireline customers in the 84 shortlisted towns and cities, has invited expression of interest (EOI) from bidders who have experience in all the three sectors - telecommunications, information technology and content provision/entertainment, to act as its franchisees.

The services are proposed to be provided on the existing copper/optic fibre last mile access network of BSNL, without affecting the existing voice services to the customers.

The company is scheduled to finalise the pre-qualified companies on October 22 and has fixed October 31 as the date for submission and opening of the financial offers.

As per the terms of the EoI, which are to be submitted by October 11, if the bidder company has the required qualification in only one/two sectors among the three listed, it can enter into legal agreement with one or more companies as a consortium.

A bidder company/consortium shall be eligible to bid for a circle, if and only if, it has a minimum annual turnover of Rs 25 crore in the combined three during each of the last three years.

However, the turnover of each of the consortium partners shall be at least Rs 10 crore in the telecommunications, IT and content provision/ entertainment sectors during each of the last three years.

The eligibility criterion clearly states that any of the consortium partners should not be and shall not become a licensed telecom service provider during the franchise agreement.

The terms further state that a bidder company may bid as a franchisee in more than one circle. However, in order to be eligible for bidding as a franchisee in two or more circles, it shall have a minimum turnover of Rs 50 crore.

All the services are to be provided under BSNL name. While all capital investments required for the project for the equipment, including the customer premises equipment and billing shall be made by the franchisee, it shall also be responsible for sourcing the content, service provisioning and marketing of the services under BSNL's brand name.

BSNL will raise and collect the bills from subscribers for these broadband services and has fixed a minimum revenue share of 30 per cent for the franchisees.

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