The board of state-owned CAT Telecom has approved plans for private sector mobile operators Digital Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Move to expand their number of cell sites for 3G operations in the 850MHz frequency band. Both DTAC and True currently provide wireless services under build-transfer-operate (BTO) concessions granted by CAT, and are required to pay a percentage of their revenues to the government-owned telco. CAT’s board has said that True Move may construct 1,400 additional cell sites and DTAC 1,220 more sites to expand trial 3G mobile services. The new announcement comes after DATC petitioned the government last month to intervene in what it described as unfair treatment by CAT. DATC chief executive, Tore Johnsen, said that CAT had only allowed DATC 36 sites for its HSPA trial service while True Move had over 600 sites.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database shows that True Move has piloted 3G using the 850MHz band via cooperation with CAT, which has allowed access to 5MHz of frequencies in return for infrastructure-sharing privileges. A limited ‘pre-commercial’ 3G service was launched in the beach resort city of Hua Hin in December 2009, offering maximum (theoretical) downstream speeds of 7.2Mbps, and by the end of that year UMTS-850 cell sites had been rolled out to cover main business districts of Bangkok and some additional provincial locations. Meanwhile, in September 2009, DTAC launched its first trial 3G 850MHz service, initially offering mobile broadband access for 2,000 laptop users in Bangkok.
In additional news, CAT has also said that next month it will propose to the panel which grants telecoms concessions that DTAC be allowed to offer 3G services commercially.