The Bangkok Post reports that Thailand will aim to establish a nationwide 3G network within one year. Citing statements made by Mun Patanotai, Minister of Information and Communications Technology, the newspaper says that state-owned TOT Corp and CAT Telecom would invite the three main cellcos (AIS, DTAC and True) to participate in a joint project to establish a W-CDMA/HSDPA network. The venture could be structured with private firms acting as strategic partners with the two state enterprises, thereby avoiding a lengthy review under the 1992 public-private joint-venture law.
The daily notes that efforts to introduce new technologies have long been hindered by legal conflicts and policy uncertainties. Previous governments have supported converting existing concessions into new licences, with network assets – currently owned by the state but operated by the private sector – to be sold off to the operators for a fee. Concession conversion has made little progress, however, due to disagreements over how the assets should be valued and the compensation that should be paid to the state enterprises. Both TOT and CAT derive the bulk of their revenues from their concession-sharing arrangements.