Ericsson, ZTE accuse TOT of bias

Melissa Chua
21 Jan 2011

Ericsson and ZTE have expressed displeasure at being knocked out of the running for Thai operator TOT’s 20 billion baht ($653.4 million) 3G expansion contract.

Ericsson had supposedly been disqualified for the lack of antenna-related products in its bid, while ZTE had been written off for providing “unrealistic financial calculations”.

Both companies are not taking defeat lying down. Ericsson’s Stockholm headquarters had warned the issue could make Thailand appear as a country that lacked transparency, while ZTE had guaranteed it would lower prices by 5 billion baht if it won the contract.

Ericsson Thailand’s country manager defended the case of the missing documents – the supposed cause of its disqualification, as a minor issue due to the fact that the bid had involved more than 100,000 pages of documentation.

A Bangkok Post report said Ericsson’s consortium plans to submit a letter to TOT and Thailand’s Information and Communications Technology Ministry regarding the issue.

Four consortia last week submitted bids for TOT’s nationwide 3G network – the SL consortium of Samart Corporation and Loxley, with Huawei supplying the network and equipment; the AU consortium of Advanced Information Technology and United Communications; the Ericsson Association Engineering consortium; and the ZTE consortium of ZTE and Forth Corporation.

Worries remain that collusion would occur if just two bidders were allowed to remain in the race, with TOT likely to pay 4 to 5 billion baht more for equipment purchase.

An industry source suggested the SL consortium could also be disqualified as Samart Corporation is considered a competitor to TOT in the production of packet switching equipment and in the 3G space – Samart provides 3G services under an MVNO agreement with TOT.

TOT is scheduled to sign on the dotted line with the winning bidder in mid February.

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