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Iridium blames BSNL for unfair partner selection

Iridium has written a letter to Communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad regarding the same

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

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 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.

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First Published: Thu, October 09 2014. 17:34 IST