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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        20  January 2011

Ericsson, ZTE disturbed about 3G bid

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Ericsson of Sweden has accused TOT Plc of being unfair and not transparent in the bidding process for its nationwide third-generation (3G) wireless broadband expansion worth nearly 20 billion baht. The company's Stockholm headquarters warned the issue could tarnish Thailand's image by portraying it as a country lacking in transparency and fairness.

China's ZTE Corporation also plans to petition Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and says it will "fight to the end" if it does not receive fair treatment from the state telecom enterprise. The state-owned Chinese enterprise guaranteed it could shave 5 billion baht off the price of the 3G project if it won the bidding.

The companies were responding after TOT made a preliminary announcement that the two contenders had both been tentatively ruled out through a preliminary screening process.

Ericsson was supposedly disqualified for the absence of catalogues for antenna-related products in its submitted bid. TOT is also reportedly concerned that if any legal disputes arose, it would have to rely on a Swedish court and not the Thai legal system.

ZTE, meanwhile, was supposedly disqualified for providing "unrealistic financial calculations". Four groups submitted bids last week for building the nationwide 3G network for TOT - the SL consortium of Samart Corporation and Loxley Plc, with Huawei Technology supplying the network and equipment; the AU consortium of Advanced Information Technology and United Communications; the Ericsson-A.S. Associate Engineering (1964) consortium; and the ZTE consortium of ZTE and Forth Corporation.

TOT initially planned a formal announcement naming the qualified bidders tomorrow. An e-auction is scheduled for January 28, and TOT hopes to sign a contract with the winner sometime between February 15 and 18.

"[The missing catalogue] is simply a minor issue based on the fact that we submitted more than 100,000 pages of documents for this project. It should not be a major reason for disqualification," said Joacim Damgard, the president and country manager of Ericsson (Thailand). Ericsson's consortium is preparing to submit a letter to TOT and the Information and Communications Technology Ministry regarding the matter.

Mr. Damgard said no issues regarding the catalogues' absence were raised during a meeting with TOT representatives last Friday.

"We think the results will limit TOT's opportunity to ensure a competitive auction in the next stage for the best commercial and technical solution," he said.

The company does not plan to take legal action against TOT but will oppose the process via relevant channels, said Mr. Damgard. "Our headquarters in Sweden and regional office will allow us to handle this alone," he said.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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