Thai newspaper The Nation writes that state owned CAT Telecom has given its approval to privately-run cellcos DTAC and True Move to begin developing 3G mobile services in the 800MHz frequency band. Both mobile companies currently offer GSM services under Build-Transfer-Operate (BTO) contracts with CAT, which says it will now ask for permission from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to adjust the usage of the 800MHz band by DTAC (from a legacy analogue network) and its own ‘CAT CDMA’ CDMA2000 1x mobile service in order to free up a 5MHz block for True Move. In exchange for CAT’s approval of W-CDMA/HSPA services in the 800MHz band, the state telco is demanding that both cellular operators must co-brand with CAT – e.g. CAT-DTAC or CAT-True – whilst reverting to ‘mainly’ using CAT’s international voice gateway instead of their own facilities. Thailand’s largest cellco by subscribers Advanced Info Service (AIS), a BTO concessionary of CAT’s sister telco TOT, launched limited W-CDMA services using its existing 900MHz spectrum last month. It is hoped that the NTC will issue 2GHz UMTS concessions outside of the BTO licence framework by the end of this year, paving the way for full-blown commercial 3G/3.5G networks to be rolled out.