Thailand’s state owned Telco TOT has announced it will take action against Ericsson for what it calls a frivolous and unreasonable lawsuit that delayed TOT’s 3G expansion plans by three months.
The operator is contemplating moves ranging from blacklisting Ericsson from further projects or a counter lawsuit.
Ericsson and ZTE initially filed complaints with Thailand’s administrative court for being excluded from the January bid in the technical round. Ericsson said it was excluded for failure to provide a product catalog pertaining to an antenna and ZTE for providing too much network capacity.
ZTE later withdrew its suit but Ericsson is pressing on with legal action.
TOT was originally due to sign off the contract on 11 February with the winning SL Consortium, consisting of conglomerates Samart and Loxley and using equipment from Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei. However, because of the lawsuits from the winning bidders, it was only able to sign the contract on 9 May.
According to the Bangkok Post, TOT Board member and spokesperson Prapan Boonyakiat accused Ericsson of misleading the public with its statements and said that the company had in fact, neglected to submit a number of documents, not just the antenna catalog. He said the Board has instructed the CEO to look into ways of dealing with “frivolous” and “unreasonable” lawsuits from vendors who only wanted to delay TOT’s business plans.
Boonyakiat added the decision to sue Ericsson could also be viewed as a case study on how vendors should bid for future projects.
Meanwhile, ASTV-Manager has reported that Singapore-owned AIS is attempting to become an MVNO on TOT’s new 3G network. TOT’s board of directors is expected to come to a decision by June whether to allow this, and even if approved, AIS would have to get an MVNO license from the regulator.
The 1.59 billion baht network expansion will expand TOT’s 3G network from its current skeletal 548 cell sites to 5,320 cell sites covering 57 out of 76 provinces. 13 major provinces will be covered by Q4 this year and within a year, it expects to cover 70% of the population with 3G.
Currently, TOT has 200,000 subscribers and hopes to increase that to 1.7 million by the end of the year. It has forecast 7 million subscribers and an 8% market share by 2015.