Thai telecoms round-up: TT&T, 3G & phones that explode

23 Nov 2005

Thai fixed line build-transfer-operate (BTO) franchisee TT&T says it has applied for a full wireline operating concession from regulator the NTC to provide telephony and broadband services. TT&T was established in June 1992 to finance, build and operate networks in 72 regions outside Bangkok under a 25-year BTO deal with TOT. Under the BTO agreement it is limited to operating 1.5 million lines. The NTC is expected to rule on TT&T’s application before year-end and the company says it is in talks with four potential investors to help fund a rollout of nationwide services. The telco has earmarked around THB3.5 billion (USD85 million) to build a broadband and data network over the next 18 months. It says it expects to have signed up 300,000 broadband users and broken even by 2008.

Meanwhile, the NTC has confirmed that the long awaited legislation concerning the licensing of 3G mobile operators in the country will be ready by the end of the year. The regulator says it will also be publishing plans for the award of concessions for VoIP, international and satellite gateways, and WiMAX wireless broadband services simultaneously. Companies will be able to begin applying for 3G licences from early next year.

In other Thai telecoms news, the government has ordered the nation’s mobile operators to disconnect around 130,000 users in the deep south of the country after they failed to register their handsets. The mandatory registration scheme was introduced following a spate of explosions caused by bombs triggered from mobile phones and is part of the government’s attempts to crack down on terror attacks in the insurgency-plagued south. According to Asia Pulse only 340,000 of the estimated 470,000 mobile users in the southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala have complied, despite numerous warnings from their providers.