US-based mobile satellite communications company Iridium Communications Inc has blamed that state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), which is establishing a Government-funded mobile satellite communications gateway, did not follow a fair and transparent process in selecting its partner.
In a letter to Communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Iridium CEO Matthew J Desch said that BSNL has selected Inmarsat as its partner and has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) "without inviting and considering other mobile satellite operators through a tender or request for proposal process".
"Without competition and transparency in the selection of the mobile satellite service, the gateway is likely to be costlier and inferior and will offer a smaller range of services," said Desch, adding that Iridium could provide a "far less expensive" and "far superior" technology for the satellite gateway than what Inmersat will offer.
The company has also asked Prasad to intervene to ensure that BSNL follows a "technology neutral platform procurement process" that allows every global players to participate. "The specifications and evaluation criteria should be established and open, and not be tailor-made to simply favour the company for which BSNL has already entered into a MoU," said Desch.
Nasdaq-listed Iridium had left India about 14 years back, and is now planning to re-enter. Last year, it held discussions with BSNL and MTNL, besides a few private companies. It was also planning to float an Indian firm - Iridium India. The company was planning to establish a mobile satellite gateway at an estimated cost of $25 million. It is also in process of similar gateways in China and Russia and has one the US at present.