State-run TOT’s plan to relaunch failed GSM mobile operator Thai Mobile as a nationwide UMTS 3G wholesale service provider is likely to suffer delays due to political red tape, according to the telco’s chairman Teerawut Boonyasopon, quoted by the Bangkok Post. TOT recently agreed to buy all the shares it did not already own in Thai Mobile from sister telco CAT, and has announced plans to invest a total of THB29 billion (USD870 million) to roll out a network of 5,200 W-CDMA base stations (nearly half of them in Bangkok) by 2012 and rent capacity to private mobile operators. It has scheduled a commercial launch within one year, but the chairman admits this is unlikely as a series of approvals must be gained first. TOT submitted its proposal to the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) ministry, which must then seek approval from the Finance Ministry, the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Office of the Public Debt Management and the cabinet. Only after it receives cabinet approval can TOT begin to draft terms of reference and call an electronic auction for equipment. Furthermore, Boonyasopon added that the current uncertain political climate makes it difficult to forecast how quickly the plan can progress.