CAT to partner True on swapping CDMA for HSPA; True to sign 2G/3G contract

18 Jan 2011

The board of Thai state-owned CAT Telecom’s board has approved a plan to partner private sector cellco True Move to provide 3G mobile services based on W-CDMA/HSPA technology, Dow Jones Newswires reported yesterday. The move follows True’s agreement in December to take over Hutchison Telecommunications International’s Thai assets including a majority stake in CDMA2000-based Hutchison CAT Wireless Multimedia (Hutch), a joint venture with CAT providing 2G and 3G services in Bangkok and central provinces of the country. The board of CAT, which operates its own CDMA2000 1xEV-DO network across the rest of the country under the CAT CDMA name, on Friday agreed that it will terminate its marketing contract with Hutch and will sign a new 14-year contract with True to provide both 2G and 3G services, CAT president Jirayut Rungsrithong said. Under the contract, expected to be signed by the end of this month, True will replace CDMA infrastructure with W-CDMA/HSPA [dependent on permission from the state-owned operator] and in return will rent the mobile network from CAT whilst technically operating as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) [via subsidiary Real Move], Jirayut said. The move will provide security for True, as its nationwide 2G build-transfer-operate (BTO) revenue-sharing concession granted in 1996 by CAT – the owner of the infrastructure – runs out in 2013, although in January 2009 True and CAT agreed to extend the BTO term by five years to September 2018, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database. The percentage of True’s revenues given to CAT under the BTO framework rose from 25% to 30% as from 2011. Meanwhile, the auctioning of full 2100MHz 3G network operating licences is on hold whilst a new combined broadcasting and telecoms regulator is established, and the acquisition of Hutch gives True alternative access to 800MHz frequencies to offer 3G services. True currently offers 850MHz trial HSPA services under its BTO contract, via permission from CAT.

Thailand, CAT Telecom, Hutch (Thailand), True Move