The same seven companies that featured in the mobile network expansion tenders are once again bidding against each other to win a multi million euro tender floated by the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC). The international companies, Nokia, Siemens, ZTE, Huawei, Motorola, Eriksson and Alcatel, made varying offers for the network, that will host 600,000 mobile lines, when the tender was opened on November 7, 2004, at the Corporation's head office.

Siemens was the highest bidder in this tender with a demand of 137 million euro. Eriksson, Alcatel, Motorola and Nokia demanded 137 million, 65 million, 65 million and 64 million euro respectively. The two Chinese companies, ZTE and Huawei made two alternative demands each, 72 and 80 million euro, and 54 and 55 million euro, respectively. Huawei's demands are both the lowest of the lot.

In this tender ETC required that the new network should be compatible with the previous ones; consequently all the bidders were said to have added an upgrade cost to the demands they had made.

This is the fourth mobile network tender ETC has floated in relation to its mobile service which was launched in 1999. Eriksson took charge of the first network provision for 60,000 lines. ZTE won the second tender June 2003, to provide 200,000 lines for 29 million dollars. Nokia, which won the third tender to provide 300,000 lines for 47 million dollars, is still working on the project.

Incompatibility between the first two networks had forced ETC to make use of only 180,000 lines although the two networks could support 260,000 lines between them. It is this problem that forced the inclusion of the clause in the latest tender that the new network would have to be compatible with the old networks. ETC is going to get this by incurring an additional cost, as all the bidders have included an up-grade cost in the demands they made.

ETC will announce the winner of this latest tender after it has finished the technical evaluations, which ETC sources say, could be done in four months time.

Addis Fortune