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'No delays' in VHA mega network deal

Vodafone Hutchison Australia's network management deal, potentially worth $1 billion for the Ericsson, Huawei or Nokia Siemens Network, could be settled within weeks, but it's not over yet.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Vodafone Hutchison Australia's (VHA) has said there's no hold-up on announcing the winning bidder for its network management deal which could potentially be worth $1 billion for the successful bidder.

VHA has yet to finalise it's decision despite A month and half on announcing that it was about to select its core network management supplier a month and a half ago. Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks are in the running for the contract.

VHA spokesperson Tyrone O'Neill told ZDNet.com.au today that a decision would be made "in the next several weeks", and said that there had not been any delays to finalising the contract.

The now-privately owned company commenced its selection process in late 2009, shortly after being formed via the merger of Hutchison 3G Australia and Vodafone Australia. The merger has left it evenly owned by Vodafone Group Plc and Hutchison Telecom, itself majority-owned (87 per cent) by Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa.

At the company's half-year earnings report, VHA chief executive, Nigel Dews, revealed that it had brought in Chinese networking behemoth Huawei to compete against the two incumbent suppliers, Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks, which respectively have managed Hutchison 3G Australia and Vodafone Australia's networks under long term contracts.

Although Huawei in Australia has never held such a large deal, and would need to rapidly boost its head count from the current 200 it employs locally if it did, the Chinese company stands a good chance to win, with influential parent company Hutchison-Whampoa providing Huawei's first major network supply deal outside China.

The new deal will be for seven years, and will play a key role in the VHA's ambition to deliver $2 billion in synergies by merging the two mobile companies. The next stage request for proposals to be issued by the company included work for its Radio Access Network, transmission and IT services, according to the executive.

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