Thailand’s mobile market leader Advanced Info Service (AIS) says it wants to launch commercial 3G services in Chiang Mai next month and in Bangkok in June, reports the Bangkok Post. The firm’s president Wichian Mektrakarn said that the launch of W-CDMA/HSDPA services over a 900MHz network would take place first in Chiang Mai after his company had prepared 30 base stations for a ‘commercial trial’ with state-run telco TOT, the owner of AIS’s build-transfer-operate (BTO) telecoms licence. But he said that AIS was awaiting clarification from the regulator the NTC, expected within 30 days, to determine whether the rollout could encompass a full commercial launch. For the planned Chiang Mai service, Mektrakarn said that users needed to register or replace their existing SIM cards with compatible ones. AIS, together with TOT, has reportedly received permission from the NTC to import 3G/3.5G equipment for an initial launch of 900MHz services, and is in the process of seeking the watchdog’s consent to expand the network to Bangkok. TeleGeography says that the strategy was hatched out of frustration at the long delays in issuing 2100MHz UMTS licences in Thailand, which are now hoped for later this year, and the licensing malaise has also led to rival cellco DTAC proposing to partner its BTO network host CAT Telecom in a rollout of 800MHz/850MHz 3G services, using frequencies re-farmed from a legacy analogue network.