BSNL, a state-owned fixed and mobile operator in India, has reportedly drawn up a short list of three suppliers for mobile WiMAX rollout: Huawei, Telsima and Alvarion. According to the India’s Business Standard, BSNL will announce its winner, or winners, next week.

The three named suppliers evidently put in the lowest bids, although WiMAX heavyweights ZTE and Alcatel-Lucent have also reportedly put their hats in the ring for the potentially lucrative BSNL WiMAX contract.

However, if BSNL continues with the franchisee model – which is widely expected – the selected WiMAX winner will have to shoulder much of the capex burden of network rollout.

BSNL is already using Soma Networks as a mobile WiMAX franchisee in the three ‘circles’ (regions) of Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, where Soma pays for the WiMAX kit in exchange for access to BSNL infrastructure (such as tower sites and backhaul facilities) and a revenue-sharing deal on WiMAX services. Soma struck a 70-30 revenue sharing deal with BSNL in the kit-maker’s favour. And last week, Soma declared also it was interested in extending its franchisee relationship with BSNL to other circles.

As state-owned players, BSNL and MTNL have been given preferential treatment over private operators wishing to roll out BWA and 3G services in India as each have already been allocated the relevant spectrum. BWA and 3G auctions in India may not take place until the end of this year, while BSNL and MTNL both announced they had launched 3G services last week.

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