22 Mar 2011
Thai mobile operator Advanced Info Service (AIS) has reached an agreement with Jasmine International to give its GSM network users access to the 15,000 public Wi-Fi broadband hotspots in Thailand operated by Jasmine’s fixed broadband subsidiary Triple T Broadband (3BB), half of which are in the capital, Bangkok. Dow Jones Newswires quotes AIS CEO Wichian Mektrakarn as saying that the cooperation will enhance competitiveness and bolster the cellco’s data revenues to 20% of total service revenue this year from 17% last year. AIS operates nationwide GPRS/EDGE mobile data services with trial W-CDMA/HSPA-based 900MHz mobile broadband coverage in selected areas.
Pete Bodharamik, CEO of Jasmine, said that Triple T expects to build on the Wi-Fi partnership to provide bundled services to its 3BB broadband customers, including a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service over the AIS network, and have such an agreement in place by the end of the year. As quoted in the Bangkok Post, he also said that Triple T planned to invest THB1.2 billion to expand its broadband network this year, including THB200 million to expand its Wi-Fi hotspot network from 15,000 to 50,000 locations by the end of 2011. ‘We want 1.2 million broadband users this year, up from 800,000 last year,’ the Triple T man declared, predicting that the operator would top two million users in three years, making it market leader.
The Jasmine CEO also confirmed that Triple T petitioned the Civil Court last month against its affiliate and former broadband investment partner, provincial fixed line operator TT&T, demanding compensation of THB2 billion after TT&T shut down 3BB-branded consumer broadband services provided over its provincial infrastructure via an agreement with Triple T, without advance notice. The Post writes that the problem arose after TT&T refused to allow Triple T to fix switching nodes that had gone out of service. TT&T claimed that it owned the broadband equipment assets so Triple T had no right to get involved. The service shutdown has affected an estimated 15,000 customers in 23 provinces in the past 18 months. Jasmine International, the former controlling shareholder of TT&T, owns a 99% stake in Triple T via wholly-owned unit Acumen, after increasing its stake from 91% at end-July 2009, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, whilst TT&T holds only a tiny stake in the broadband operator. TT&T and Jasmine/Triple T have been feuding ever since the bulk of the group’s broadband customers were transferred to Triple T’s books two years ago as part of a dect rehabilitation process at TT&T.