Thai Operator to Delay 3G Rollout
Thai operator, DTAC has announced that it will delay the launch of its 3G network until it sees more demand for mobile data services. The decision was taken by the company's new CEO, Tore Johnsen, who took charge of DTAC earlier this month.
The original plan was to roll out 3G services in the capital, Bangkok followed by Chon Buri and Phuket in the first quarter of next year. Nationwide coverage was due to be achieved by the middle of next year. DTAC had earmarked THB5 billion ($147 million) for investment in 3G infrastructure during 2009.
"There is no need to rush into offering 3G services as long as demand for mobile data is still not there," Mr Johnsen told the Bangkok Post newspaper, adding that "we want to make sure that the Thai market is more than ready for 3G, particularly in the mobile data service area,"
However, rival state controlled operator, TOT says that it will proceed with its 3G network rollout and expects to have some 350,000 subscribers by the end of next year, and four million by 2013.
Under the plans, TOT will upgrade some 500 base stations in the capital, Bangkok and other main cities to support 3G services. The upgraded network will then be sub-let to its joint venture, ACT Mobile - which trades as Thai Mobile. A second phase of the network upgrade will result in the installation of 5,200 new 3G base stations to provide national coverage.
Earlier this month, TOT signed an initial deal with another state agency, CAT Telecom, to pay THB2.4 billion ($71 million) for the right to operate the 1900 megahertz frequency, which can support 3G services. Under the memorandum of understanding, CAT has agreed to transfer its interests in joint ventures that own the frequency to TOT, both agencies said in separate statements.
Thailand's Advanced Info Service (AIS) recently launched a 3G network in Chiang Mai - but using its existing 900Mhz spectrum.