Blacklisted contractor bids for TM’s RM400mil 5G tender?

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Little-known Wuhan Fiberhome International (M) Sdn Bhd, whose parent is among companies blacklisted by the United States, is believed to be one of the bidders for Telekom Malaysia Bhd’s RM400 million 5G tender.

People familiar with the tender told the New Straits Times that Wuhan Fiberhome’s parent, optical communication equipment maker FiberHome Technologies Group, was banned by the US for its connections to China’s People Liberation Army and human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

“What is TM’s stand on this company as its parent company and subsidiary are banned by the US for human rights abuses in the XUAR,” said a source.

It is learnt that other bidders for the tender include Juniper Networks Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Cisco Malaysia, Ciena Communications (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, Nokia, ZTE and Huawei.

An online search showed that Wuhan Fiberhome did not have a corporate website, although its office is located in TM’s corporate headquarters Menara TM at Jalan Pantai Baharu here.

When contacted, TM said: “Telekom Malaysia Bhd does not comment on matters of speculation. At TM, we have a robust and procurement process in place, including for its tender bidding exercise that adheres to a stringent set of criteria.”

Calls made to Wuhan Fiberhome went unanswered.

News reports indicated that FiberHome Technologies and subsidiary Nanjing FiberHome Starrysky Communication Development, were among 33 companies under the US’ blacklist for supplying high-technology surveillance equipment used against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in XUAR.

Huawei is also in the US’ blacklist for abuses in XUAR.

On Monday, another China’s largest chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), fell into the US blacklist.

In response, SMIC in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange said the blacklist would not have significant impact on operations and finances in the short term.

In early 2018, the US had targeted Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp for skirting a sanctions against Iran and North Korea and banned US firms from supplying components to it.

However, the US lifted its ban after ZTE paid a US$1 billion penalty later that year.

According to an online presentation, TM is embarking on rebuilding the whole network as second-layer under its Next Generation Backhaul (NGBH), with existing services being slowly migrated to the new layer.

TM’s NGBH transport, which includes nationwide IP and optical, and basically the NGBH network will be a 5G-oriented network which will support large throughput and low latency.

The sources said TM’s existing tender guideline stated that each award would go to one Western and one China vendor.

For example, the IP tender is open for one Western and one China company, while the optical tender is open for one Western and one China company.

The tender was floated in early 2020.

The technical clarification has been completed and now the price submission is ongoing. Nst

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