State-owned telco TOT, Thailand’s only 2100MHz 3G mobile operator, has resumed talks with the country’s largest cellco by subscribers, Advanced Info Service (AIS), to negotiate a deal under which AIS may join the existing resellers offering 3G services over TOT’s Bangkok W-CDMA/HSPA network. AIS, which already offers 3G in the UMTS-900 band in selected areas of the country, would operate as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) under a six-month contract if a deal went through, as TOT wants to get the first stage of its national 3G network project under way – not expected until around April 2011 – before it signs new three-year contracts with additional MVNOs.
Meanwhile Dow Jones Newswires reports that Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia is also entering the MVNO segment in Thailand by establishing a joint venture company to provide 3G services over TOT’s network, under the Tune Talk banner. AirAsia owns a 49% stake in Tune Talk Thailand Co, which plans to start providing mobile broadband services in Bangkok on 13 January 2011. ‘We expect to have 500,000 subscribers within 18 months of operation and one million customers by 2012,’ the venture’s managing director Tom Kruesophon said.