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Thailand signs US$32.8-mil Tablet deal with Chinese firm

The Information and Communication Technology Ministry yesterday inked a THB-1.02-billion (US$32.8 mil) tablet-computer supply contract with the Chinese manufacturer Shenzhen Scope for the purchase of 400,000 tablets for primary school students.

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The first 2,000 devices will be delivered next week and the rest to be arrived within 60 days. The model is specifically produced for Thailand, according to ICT Minister Anudith Nakornthap.

Under the contract, Thailand will buy 400,000 devices at THB 2,400 (US$ 81) per unit and a contract for the remaining 530,000 units will be signed later with the same price after the first batch of Scope Tablets passes government quality control standards. The remaining units must be delivered within 90 days from May 10.

“The specs are higher than what was specified in the terms of reference. This model is being produced specifically for this project, not according to the general specs offered in the market,” he said and added that the ministry’s committee would thoroughly check the devices’ specification.

Thailand Post will deliver the devices, which will have software installed, to school nationwide in July.

The devices, Scope’s Scopad SP0712 model, come in four colours- red, blue, silver and gold and feature a seven-inch touchscreen, a 1.2 GHz single core CPU, 1 GB RAM, a storage memory unit of 8GB, Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, and a GPS navigation system for monitoring and tracking purposes. The devices also come with two-year international standard warrantee.

The purchase is under One Tablet PC Per Child campaign promise, a series of populist policies promoted by the ruling government which pledged to provide the country’s 860,000 first graders with the tablet PC.

Initially, the government vowed to deliver the devices to students nationwide by this month, the beginning of the academic year. However, the purchase was delayed by nearly two months due to disputes over the contract conditions with the Chinese company. At first, Shenzhen Scope failed to produce a bank guarantee. Then, there was a problem with the warranty period for the battery; while the supplier offered a one-year period, the ministry demanded two years.

To secure the contract, Shenzhen Scope came up with a Bt51-million (US$1.63 million) bank guarantee, or five per cent of the total contract value.

Shenzhen Scope was one of the four suppliers recommended by the Chinese government. Its chairman, Liu Jun, said the company was confident of delivering all the tablets to the Thai government within the timeframe specified in the contract.

The company’s production capacity is 30,000 units per day. It has reserved 80 per cent of its total capacity - around 24,000 units per day - for the government’s One Tablet PC Per Child project. The company plans to set up around 30 service centres nationwide by the end of this year to support Thai users, Liu said.

Thailand is the first country in which we have provided large lots of tablets for students. Now we are talking with other governments to provide this kind of tablet device for students, including Pakistan, Brazil and South Africa,” Liu said.

According to its website, the company is one of the top 100 manufacturers in Bao’an district of Shenzhen, China, and certified as a hi-tech enterprise. Scope’s factory at Shiyan, measuring 100,000 square metres, mainly produces tablet PCs, mobile phones and GPS devices. It employs more than 1,500 people, including a professional research and development team of 60 people, with a number of patented technologies to its credit. It has seven product lines, silk-screen devices and painting workshops. Annual production capacity is more than 5 million units. Ten new product lines are being built with an estimated annual production capacity of 10 million units.

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