CAT to give DTAC permission for commercial 3G launch

16 Feb 2011

CAT Telecom’s board will decide on a proposal from the state-owned telco’s management to permit cellco Digital Total Access Communication (DTAC) to launch commercial 3G mobile services in mid-March, reports the Bangkok Post. Telenor subsidiary DTAC, which offers services via a build-transfer-operate (BTO) concession with CAT, currently provides trial 3G W-CDMA/HSPA-based services in the 850MHz band. Following two years of complaining that CAT had favoured fellow BTO licensee True Move by permitting the latter to expand 3G trial coverage, in December 2010 CAT’s board announced that DTAC could upgrade up to 1,220 base stations for pre-commercial 850MHz HSPA, up from an existing 36 sites. Both this decision and the latest announcement are viewed from some quarters as an attempt to defuse criticism of CAT for January’s hastily arranged 14-year agreement with True Move to jointly market 3G HSPA-based services as part of True’s takeover of the ‘Hutch’ CDMA business (formed as a joint venture of CAT and Hong Kong’s Hutchison Telecom). CAT president Jirayuth Roongsrithong said the state enterprise had full authority to allow DTAC to provide 3G commercial services on a HSPA network. The approval did not require screening under the 1992 Public-Private Joint Venture Act, he added. He continued: ‘We have clarified that CAT has the right to allow private operators to upgrade their existing spectrums to HSPA, similar to past network developments of operators upgrading from GPRS to EDGE technology services, citing an interpretation by the Council of State, the government’s legal advisory body.