Telkom’s fixed-line broadband expansion plans can now continue unhindered after the telecommunications operator won a crucial battle at the supreme court of appeal in Bloemfontein.
The supreme court on Monday dismissed an application brought by ZTE Mzanzi, a black-owned telecommunications company, against Telkom. ZTE Mzanzi had sought to overturn Telkom’s granting of a multibillion-rand tender to Alcatel-Lucent Technologies and Huawei to build new network infrastructure aimed at increasing broadband speeds offered to consumers.
The project, said to be worth as much as R13bn over five years, is being undertaken so that Telkom can offer digital subscriber line speeds to its customers of up to 40Mbit/s.
In March 2012, the high court in Pretoria granted ZTE Mzanzi an interdict stopping Telkom from continuing with the work with its chosen contractors. It was given permission by the same court in May last year to resume the work pending the appeal.
The appeal was upheld with costs, Telkom says.
“We had no doubt that Telkom’s procurement policy and procedures would not be found wanting,” says CEO Nombulelo Moholi in a statement. “Telkom is pleased that the … roll-out of the higher-speed broadband project has overcome a potential obstacle and can now continue unabated.”
Telkom says it published a tender to supply the upgraded network in July 2011. ZTE Mzanzi was not shortlisted because it “failed to meet certain critical technical criteria during the evaluation process”. It awarded the contract to China’s Huawei and France’s Alcatel-Lucent in November 2011.
ZTE Mzanzi’s decision to take Telkom to court — it filed papers in January 2012 — led to a breakdown of the relationship between the company and China’s ZTE, which owns 40% of its equity. However, Mzanzi CEO Tumi Magasa tells TechCentral that the relationship between the two companies is back on track.
Magasa says he will be in a position to comment on the supreme court of appeal judgment on Tuesday, once he’s had a chance to study it. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media