NT to approach Huawei for installation of GSM lines
KATHMANDU, Sept 27: After being turned down twice by relatively competitive bidders, Nepal Telecom (NT) has now decided to issue a letter of intent (LoI) for installation of 5.2 million GSM lines to Huawei, a Chinese telecom giant.
The state-owned telecom service provider took the decision on Wednesday after Swedish telecommunication vendor, Ericsson, cold-shouldered its offer. NT had issued a public notice to the Swedish vendor to implement what it terms as the ´Package A´ of its 10 million GSM lines project on September 11, seeking response to the letter of acceptance within 15 days.
With the negative response, NT has also initiated the process to confiscate the bid bond of $ 4.6 million from Ericsson. “The deadline we pledged to Ericsson expired on Wednesday. This left us with the only option: to approach Huawei to implement the Package A as well,” a senior official at NT told Republica.
Huawei, which bagged the Package B of the project, has already signed an agreement with NT, agreeing to install 4.8 million GSM lines within 2015.
The bid for the Package A was originally won by ZTE, but it later pulled out after NT turned down its request to raise the cost for implementing the project. Confiscating ZTE´s bid bond worth Rs 420 million, NT then had offered the project to Ericsson.
“As Huawei has already started implementing its portion of 4.8 million GSM lines, we are optimistic it will accept the offer to install the remaining lines as well,” the official said.
Sources further said that it would be really unfortunate for NT if Huawei too refused the offer.
This is because Huawei´s denial will leave NT with no other option but to restart the tender process for the Package A yet again. “As nearly a year has elapsed since we called the previous bid, the fresh tender could add to our financial burden,” said the official.
That is not all. It would further delay the execution of the project.
The reluctance of the bidders of Package A has already delayed implementation of the project, impacting NT´s plan to expand GSM services in the rural and hilly areas.
Under the Package-A, NT has been planning to distribute 2G, 3G and 4G lines in rural and hilly areas of central, eastern, far-western and mid-western regions. And it had targeted to complete the project by 2015.
Meanwhile, though the NT officials said that they have already initiated the process of confiscating the bid bond of Ericsson, NT Spokesperson Gunakeshari Pradhan said the operator might not be able to do so before the Supreme Court issues a verdict on a case that the Swedish vendor filed against the telecom.
Ericsson that preferred to snub the NT´s offer had filed a case at the apex court, seeking to safeguard its bid bond of Rs 420 million. “We knew of Ericsson´s lack of interest in the project as soon as it filed the case in the court, but still we will need the court´s verdict to confiscate the bond,” said Pradhan.