Thai cellco Advanced Info Services (AIS) has asked the country’s telecoms regulator for permission to begin trials of W-CDMA services, as it is worried about the time being taken to issue 3G concessions. With 3G licence rules still being drafted, AIS has applied for temporary permission to begin testing W-CDMA services in the 2.1GHz frequency band, saying it is willing to pay for the use of the spectrum if necessary. ‘We have to start preparing now, as we believe it will take several months before the NTC can issue 3G licences,’ Weerachai Patcharopaswong, AIS’ assistant vice president for business relations, told The Nation. AIS has set aside USD400 million for network investment this year, half of which is earmarked for the development of 3G. The operator is currently working alone on the project after abandoning plans to form a 3G joint venture with state-owned incumbent TOT Corp in August this year. In March the two companies teamed up to offer the data service ‘Buddy Broadband’, but problems with infrastructure and strong competition hampered take-up, leading AIS to look elsewhere for a 3G partner.