Xinhua reports that Nepal Telecom (NT) has officially invited Chinese equipment manufacturer Huawei Technologies to sign its name to a contract for the supply of 5.2 million GSM mobile lines. On 22 December, NT reportedly issued a letter of acceptance to the vendor to sign off on the contract within 15 days so that it can move ahead with plans to initiate the contract ‘soon’.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database writes that in November this year NT said it hoped to begin offering new mobile connections on its network as part of a delayed expansion project, from the end of its current financial year (July 2013). The telco is looking to deploy ten million GSM lines in total to boost capacity, but the first phase – for 5.2 million connections – has been delayed. In September 2012, NT sent a letter of intent (LoI) to Huawei, offering the vendor a contract to install mobile network capacity for 5.2 million GSM lines which two other technology providers turned down. NT was forced to cancel its original contract with another Chinese equipment supplier, ZTE, for the 5.2 million GSM line deployment (labelled ‘package A’) and was subsequently turned down by Ericsson of Sweden when it offered it the opportunity to take up the order. Huawei has already accepted Package B of the project, after signing an agreement with NT to install 4.8 million GSM lines by 2015. ZTE pulled out after NT refused its request to raise the cost for implementing Package A. ‘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,’ an NT official said. Package A involves rolling out 2G, 3G and 4G lines in rural and hilly areas of central, eastern, far-western and mid-western regions of Nepal by 2015. NT has already distributed 6.1 million mobile lines and wants to add ten million more by 2015.