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Second tablet auction planned

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Plans by the government to move ahead with a second tablet auction looks likely by next month with a budget of 4.48 billion baht. 

Prathom 1 students at Sukha Naree school in Nakhon Ratchasima province get a chance to use free tablet computers at school for the first time on Sept 11 this year. PRASIT TANGPRASERT

An additional 1.6 million tablets are expected to be distributed in May under the One Tablet per Child project.

Another 848,817 units are to be delivered to Prathom 1 students, with the remaining supply to Mathayom 1 students, said a source close to the deal.

"The draft specification for the tender document is expected to be published on the Office of the Basic Education Commission's (Obec) website next week," he added.

The source said the government intends to use an e-auction this time, dividing the country into four zones by region. The auction will be held on one day.

Last year the government signed a government-to-government contract to purchase 860,000 tablets worth 2.4 billion baht from Shenzhen Scope Scientific Development, the maker of Scopad.

The Chinese maker won the initial contract to supply tablets with a price of US$81 per unit, or 2,470 baht.

The source said the median price of a tablet for Prathom 1 students is set at 2,720 baht.

The tablet will have government specifications of a seven-inch display with a camera resolution of 1024x600 pixels, a minimum 1.5-gigahertz dual-core processor unit, one gigabyte of RAM, eight gigabytes of storage memory, 3,600 milliampere hours of lithium polymer battery life, and continuous Wi-Fi internet access for at least three hours.

The source added the median tablet price for Mathayom 1 students is 2,820 baht.

The tender document will require bidders to have experience manufacturing tablets for at least two years. Their tablets must pass a drop test from 50 centimetres and carry a one-year warranty.

The winner must commit to deliver the products in four batches within 105 days after the contract is signed.

Lei Xue Zhou, general manager of Scope (Thailand), confirmed the company will bid in the second tablet auction.

Watchai Vilailuck, president of Samart Corporation, told the Bangkok Post Samart will also join the auction as it has some Chinese partners making tablets. Samart also has service shops nationwide.

Sawat Erbchokchai, research and development director at Forth Corporation, a local tablet maker, confirmed his company will also bid next year. But he asked the government to scrap the condition requiring bidders to have two years of experience in making tablets as it is likely to impede the entry of local companies to join.

Jeerawut Wongpimonporn, the country general manager of Lenovo (Thailand), the world's largest computer maker, said the tablet specifications and low prices are not convincing international brand computer makers to participate.

Harry Yang, managing director of Acer (Thailand), the world's fourth-largest PC maker, said the company needs to see final bidding terms, prices and conditions before deciding whether to bid.

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