ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Lawsuit may block Thai 3G auction
ZTE Corporation will petition the Administrative Court for a temporary halt to TOT Plc's auction for a 20-billion-baht nationwide expansion of Thailand's 3G network after the state-owned Chinese enterprise was dropped from the bidding.
The auction is scheduled for Friday, January 28.
TOT yesterday formally announced the names of the two qualifying bidders - the SL consortium of Samart Corporation and Loxley Plc, with Huawei Technology supplying the network and equipment; and the AU consortium of Advanced Information Technology and United Communications.
ZTE - a consortium of ZTE and Forth Corporation - and the Ericsson-A.S. Associate Engineering (1964) consortium were ruled out in a screening process.
Ericsson of Sweden will announce its action plan against TOT today.
Zhang Xiao-ke, the managing director of ZTE (Thailand), said TOT's announcement disqualifying the company for providing unrealistic financial calculations was completely unfair based on the fact that its submitted bid proposed a higher core network capacity than the state telecom enterprise required.
"We fully complied with the state enterprise's TOR," he said. "We believe it should not be considered a mistake if we provide equipment specs that are higher than the initial conditions." Last Friday, ZTE petitioned Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Information and Communications Technology Minister Chuti Krairiksh and both the chairman and the president of TOT.
Mr. Zhang said since TOT's 3G expansion would be ZTE's largest bidding project, the company is truly eager to participate and guarantees it can shave five billion baht off the price of the 3G project if it wins the bidding.
An industry source has disclosed that the real cost of TOT's nationwide 3G network expansion should be only 10 billion baht, which has prompted convincing companies to race to bid. ZTE had revenue of US$55 million from its local operations last year, and it expects $160 million this year.
Djitt Laowattana, a TOT board director, said the board will allow management to decide whether to proceed with the 3G auction this Friday as scheduled.
The board only has to endorse the auction results, said Mr. Djitt.
TOT's plan is for an e-auction on Friday, with a contract to be signed with the winner sometime from Feb 15-18.
ICT Minister Chuti earlier said he could not guarantee the auction would take place on Friday as scheduled.
However, experts say the legal action by the Chinese firm could have a severe effect on 3G expansion and Thailand's wireless broadband development.
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