BBNL cancels Rs 19,000 crore broadband tender for connecting villages

State-owned Bharat Broadband Nigam (BBNL) has cancelled a Rs 19,000-crore tender for connecting villages across 16 states with an optical fibre-based broadband network due to the lack of participation of eligible bidders, PTI news agency reported.
Italy Open Fiber projectIndia government approved the broadband project in June last year to roll out an optical fibre network under BharatNet in 16 states in a public-private partnership model with a total expense of Rs 29,430 crore.

India had approved a viability gap fund of Rs 19,041 crore for the project that aimed to connect 3.61 lakh villages across 16 states. The project was divided into nine packages, and tenders for each of the packages were floated separately.

For each of the nine tenders, BBNL on February 8 said the tender of the corresponding package with all its corrigenda is hereby cancelled on account of non-participation by any bidder.

There was participation from some firms; bids were evaluated; but the participants failed to qualify.
BBNL will float the tender again after taking feedback from the industry.

The government opted for a public-private partnership after state-owned firms faced several issues in expediting the projects and missed several deadlines.

The National Optical Fibre Network was aiming to connect all 2.5 lakh panchayats with the optical fibre network by 2013. The project now has been extended to 2025.

Over 1.69 lakh village panchayats have been made service-ready for broadband services under BharatNet as of December 31, 2021.