A source on the board of Thai state-owned telco CAT Telecom has revealed that a committee has been set up to invite foreign firms to make proposals to market a nationwide CDMA2000 1x mobile network. According to the source, the board believes CAT is inexperienced in marketing telecom services, especially in the current highly competitive market, and it therefore needs the assistance of established firms to get the job done. At least four companies based in the USA, South Korea, Japan and China – along with Hong Kong’s Hutchison Telecom, CAT’s existing partner in joint mobile venture Hutchison CAT Wireless Multimedia – are said to have submitted marketing proposals to the panel. A CAT management source reported that the board had yet to inform CAT managers about such a move.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Hutchison CAT Wireless Multimedia offers CDMA2000 1x voice and data services in 25 provinces in the greater Bangkok, eastern and western regions, and basic voice services over CAT’s CDMA IS-95A network in major cities and towns in 51 other provinces. CAT is aiming to soft launch its new rural 1x network in mid-2006, beginning in southern areas. Technology provider Huawei had deployed over 800 1x base stations by the end of January 2006 as part of the THB7.2 billion expansion programme; the Chinese vendor is expected to roll out a total of 1,600 base stations across the country by 2007.