Government sources cited by the publication say that certain tender document conditions would enable one or two foreign gear makers to bid for the project even as Indian players have been urging the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which will execute the project, to enable a level-playing field.
Though the tender is yet to be floated, industry bodies such as the Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association (TEMA) and the PHD Chambers of Commerce have objected to BSNL’s decision of framing the tender on the lines of the Chennai-Andaman Nicobar Islands (CANI) Submarine Cable Project.
The point of contention, according to the two industry bodies, is that the experience of the parent company can be leveraged to bid for the project as the CANI project was won by a Japanese consortium led by NEC Technologies India (NECTI) with a single bid.
TEMA and PHDCC allege that NECTI won the project by using the experience of its parents company–NEC Japan.
“Similarly, Indian companies can use the experience of their foreign consortium partners to meet the eligibility conditions and participate to complete the KLI project,” the publication quoted TEMA as saying.
The two companies have also written to Congress MP Shashi Tharoor highlighting that Indian gear makers will be at a disadvantage if the tender is not ‘technology agnostic’.
TEMA and PHDCC have also written to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO); Cabinet Secretary; Principle Scientific Advisor; Niti Aayog CEO; Telecom Secretary; USOF Administrator; as well as BSNL CMD highlighting the issue.
They have pointed out that a high-powered committee, constituted by the DoT has suggested the use of “Repeatered Technology” for the link between Kochi to Minicoy Island, while “Repeaterless Technology” should be used for the remaining length.
“The Repeatered Technology becomes expensive due to specialised cable design and costly repeaters and costly Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (SLTE). Besides this the maintenance of the Repeatered Cable becomes expensive, too. In the case of submarine cable damage, Repeatered Cable repair costs $1 million, whereas the Repeaterless Cable repair cost only $0.5 million. However, up to the distance of 600 km, Repeaterless Technology is sufficient as per the requirement of high bandwidths and very low losses of the signal,” they were quoted as saying.
They suggested that if the government decides to proceed with the Repeatered Technology in the project then the tender may be divided into two segments for each Repeatered and Repeaterless technology owing to differences between them.