Publicizing a competitive bidding opportunity for a universal access and service (UAS) project effectively increases competition and will likely lead to a better outcome (i.e., lower subsidy to be paid, suitable winning bidder).
There are several ways to publicize and market a UAS bidding opportunity. They are as follows:
- By direct invitation to all relevant licence holders within the country. To avoid the perception of favouritism, it is important to notify all the various eligible licence holders. Depending on the number of relevant licence holders, this might be either a practical or unpractical approach (i.e., in a small market, it is practical to contact between 10 to 50 licence holders whereas in larger markets this might not be appropriate or effective).
- Placing an announcement in the main national newspaper that has wide circulation among the business community. Ideally, it is placed in two national newspapers or trade journals. Also, it is helpful if the advertisement runs for at least two to three days.
- The bidding opportunity should be published on the web page of the industry regulator, and the relevant ministry could also have links to the announcement. Web-notices, increasingly important, will also help market the opportunity internationally.
- If the bid is open internationally, as discussed in Section 7.1.1, notices or advertisements also need to be placed in international industry or business magazines, newsletters, newspapers and other relevant media. As well, international or regional industry conferences can be used to market a UAS bidding opportunity. It might also be appropriate to contact a certain number of potentially interested international bidders as long as it is more than two or three, in order to avoid any favouritism.
Typically, a country will use a mix of the above options to advertise the bidding opportunity depending upon the specific UAS project and market situation. For example, a small pilot or Internet project below USD 0.5 million might not need to be advertised internationally.
Notices of bidding opportunities can be short but should contain the following vital information:
- Who is calling the competitive tender;
- What area shall be served with which service;
- What is the maximum subsidy offered; and
- Information on how to obtain the official bidding documents.
Public tender documents should be offered for sale to prospective bidders for a specified sum. These are typically kept low for accessibility by interested parties, while at the same time are priced high enough to cover the costs of photocopying, binding, mailing, etc., which will also reduce the number of requests received from non-relevant parties to the bid. The notice and the public tender documents should be issued with at least two months lead time, allowing for bidders to investigate, research and prepare detailed proposals. Depending on the complexity and size of UAS project and whether it is likely that companies need to conduct some site surveys, it might be advisable to give three months lead time.