Thursday, February 08, 2007

ICE ends commercial relations with Alcatel-Lucent amid bribery scandal

Photo by AM Costa Rica staff)( - Costa Rica's state power and telecom monopoly ICE will no longer work with French equipment provider Alcatel-Lucent after coverage problems and amid a deepening bribery scandal, local and international press quoted ICE's president Pedro Pablo Quiros as saying.

ICE will end its GSM mobile infrastructure rental contract with Alcatel-Lucent, purchase that infrastructure and not consider the equipment supplier for future contracts, Quiros said.

Alcatel, which merged with US based Lucent Technologies last November, won a contract in 2001 to install 400,000 GSM lines.

A former Alcatel executive, Christian Sapsizian, was arrested in the US in December on charges related to $2.5 million in allegedly paid bribes to an ICE board member to receive the 2001 contract.

In Costa Rica charges were levied last week against Hernan Bravo (pictured), a former ICE board member, who allegedly received $800,000 to facilitate the contract's approval.

ICE is planning on installing more mobile lines for its GSM network and said that the decision to break off its contract with Alcatel was also due to quality of service problems that the network has faced.

ICE had previously said it would buy 200,000 additional lines for the network, but now "is not planning a future with Alcatel." ICE estimates it has paid Alcatel $153 million since the network was installed in December 2002.

Alcatel-Lucent was notified on Tuesday. ICE expects to have completed the line buyback process in the next three weeks.

ICE has also said it will uphold its contract with Swedish equipment provider Ericsson to install 300,000 new lines, which were meant to be ready for service in April last year.

(Photo by AM Costa Rica staff)

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