3G finally on its way for Thai Mobile?

12 Jul 2007

The Bangkok Post carries a story today suggesting that Thai Mobile is moving closer to becoming the country’s first 3G operator, with Vodafone and Alcatel-Lucent reportedly interested in helping to construct a W-CDMA network for the cellco. Additionally, investment funds from China and Russia would extend long-term loans for Thai Mobile to help pay its way initially. Djit Laowattana, a board director and spokesperson for TOT – the company that owns 58% of Thai Mobile – revealed that Alcatel-Lucent has scheduled a meeting to discuss a proposed 3G network. He also disclosed that at the first meeting of TOT’s 3G committee, it considered using approximately THB17.4 billion (USD566 million) to migrate the current 2G service of Thai Mobile to 3G in three phases. The initial phase would cost THB1.4 billion to upgrade the existing 533 base stations and core network from GSM to W-CDMA. This would be followed by investment of THB15.5 billion to expand services nationwide, with a final THB400 million required for six major provinces in Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Nakhon Sawan and Surat Thani. The migration, he said, relies on rival cellcos AIS and DTAC using its 3G network, something which could prove to be a stumbling block; both operators have in the past revealed intentions to build their own next generation networks.