7 May 2008
Advanced Info Service (AIS) yesterday launched commercial 3G mobile services in Chiang Mai as planned, with coverage initially limited to a 30-base station 900MHz network upgraded with W-CDMA/HSDPA technology, reports the Bangkok Post. The ‘3GSM Advance’ service offers video calling, video streaming, internet access and music and video downloads at maximum theoretical speeds of 7.2Mbps. Video calls cost THB3 (USD0.10) per minute with downloads charged at THB1 per 5MB. Users with compatible handsets need to buy a new SIM card but can keep their existing mobile numbers. Shin Corp subsidiary AIS is initially offering two HSPA handsets from Nokia and Phone One, priced at THB8,990 and THB6,990, respectively. The launch was allowed despite the absence of 3G licences in Thailand, after AIS signed an agreement with its state-run build-transfer-operate (BTO) network host TOT for the right to upgrade the 900MHz infrastructure to HSPA standard. In turn, the regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission, gave TOT permission for the network upgrade. If it receives the necessary permissions, AIS plans to expand 3GSM Advance coverage to Bangkok in mid-June, and also hopes to introduce the 3G service in Hua Hin, Chon Buri and Phuket, depending on the customer response in Chiang Mai.