Sunday, September 07, 2008

Thailand - 3G networks

Thailand to cap 3G networks at five - minister

Thailand will cap future 3G licensees at a maximum of five, communications minister Dr Mun Patanotai revealed in an exclusive interview at ITU Asia, with TelecomTV.

His comments came as he emphasised the importance of 3G to the nation’s regional competitiveness. Speaking at the start of the ITU Telecom Asia event in Bangkok yesterday, Patanotai said the government had received advice that five was the highest number possible before there was “too much competition.”

Thailand effectively has five 2G licensees now, but the market is dominated by three—AIS, DTAC and True. AIS and DTAC have already begun efforts to roll out 3G technology using their existing 2G spectrum allocation,s and last month received government permission to import the necessary equipment. The state fixedtelecom operator, TOT, has also signaled plans to operate a 3G network using 1900MHz spectrum.

It’s not clear how definitive the minister’s comments might be, as the regulator has only recently begun a consultation process to gain feedback on the best way forward for 3G. The country has demarcated 45MHz of 3G spectrum and previously there have been suggestions that four licenses would be issued.

In recent weeks, the Thai government has been pushing ahead with its 3G plans despite the country’s political turmoil and potential delays caused by a reconstitution of the country’stelecom regulator as a more general convergence regulator.

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