AIS and TOT 3G tie-up delayed by up to six months to appease MVNOs

1 Feb 2010

The board of Thai state-run telco TOT has told the country’s mobile market leader Advanced Info Service (AIS) to wait four to six months before beginning the proposed data roaming service on the state enterprise’s 2100MHz 3G network to give its contracted mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) some marketing leeway, reports the Bangkok Post. However, apparently in retaliation, AIS has told TOT to cease voice roaming on its network and scrapped a pricing agreement on call rates for its mobile phone services. It had been proposed that AIS, which operates a small-scale 3G network using 900MHz frequencies, would begin offering its users 3G data roaming on TOT’s 2100MHz network today for a trial period, but TOT has faced an outcry from the five MVNOs – Loxley, Samart I-Mobile, 365 Communication, IEC International and M Consultant Corporation – who are committed to reselling services over the TOT 3G network which launched in Bangkok in December 2009. AIS had also proposed to invest in TOT’s second phase 3G network expansion in exchange for giving TOT’s 3G customers access to voice roaming on AIS’s nationwide 2G network. However, the Post reports that AIS chief executive Wichian Mektrakarn said the Shin Corp-owned cellco had told TOT that it would cease the voice roaming service pending consultation with the National Telecoms Commission (NTC), in addition to suspending a pricing agreement with TOT under which the latter’s customers are charged THB0.60 (USD0.018) a minute for roaming instead of THB1.10. He said this was not retaliation against TOT but just ‘fair treatment’ after the telco claimed it would seek consultation with the regulator on 3G data roaming. He questioned why TOT suddenly needed to seek the advice of the NTC when the pair had cooperated for years without having to consult the watchdog.

Thailand, Advanced Info Service (AIS), TOT