August 5, 1995: India's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) today opened financial bids submitted for a tender on nationwide cellular services. The technical bids, specifying infrastructure building plans, had been opened on Monday (July 31). Today's bids indicate how much the 32 applicants are willing to pay, over a 10-year period, as licence fees.
Among the highest bidders was Birla Communications, a joint venture between India's Aditya Birla Group and US-based AT&T. Birla bid about $570 million for the prosperous western state of Gujarat, and slightly less for its southern neighbour, Maharashtra. Licences for Bombay - Maharashtra's capital - were awarded last year, along with Delhi, Calcutta and Madras.
Other bidders included joint ventures with US West (which came second, after AT&T, in the two western states), Australia's Telstra, Hughes, and companies from Thailand, Switzerland and Singapore.
A surprise was the tie-up between Reliance - a large industrial group moving into infrastructure - and America's Nynex. This bid for all telecom 'circles' barring the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir, and the remote islands of Andaman and Nicobar. Its bids were ridiculously low, in comparision with the others - $95 million for Gujarat. Still, Reliance will get some areas by virtue of being the only bidder - such as in the eastern state of West Bengal, of which Calcutta is the capital.
It will now take a few weeks for two companies to be selected for each circle, based on a weighted evaluation of both financial and technical bids.The complete list of bids should be available shortly here.
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