Thailand’s CAT Telecom has confirmed 10 January 2012 as the date for the official full commercial launch of its ‘My’ branded retail HSPA-based 3G mobile service. The state-owned telco introduced the service on a strictly limited basis in July 2011 over the HSPA network which is currently being built out by private sector operator True Corp under a strategic partnership with CAT. The acting CEO of CAT, Viroj Tocharoenvanith, quoted by local newspaper The Nation, announced that ‘My’ 3G would be offered to customers in over 30 provinces via 3,000 base stations (1,700 in Bangkok) at launch, adding that the existing 2,000 or so ‘My’ users would grow to 600,000 in 2012 if the company realises its goal. CAT’s 850MHz retail HSPA offering is initially only available to post-paid users, with a focus on corporate customers, but the telco said in November that it would launch a pre-paid option by the middle of 2012.
True Corp launched its ‘True Move H’ HSPA service in 17 provinces in August 2011, following its takeover of CAT’s previous public-private joint venture partner Hutch and via wholesale-resale deals signed with CAT in January. According to CAT, HSPA coverage will be expanded to 13,000 base stations by 2013 to reach over 90% of the population. CAT also provides 3G services over a provincial CDMA2000 1xEV-DO network, but is aiming to switch focus to HSPA. The Nation also reported that CAT’s board has approved a 2012-2016 CAPEX budget of THB20 billion (USD635 million), including THB12 billion for its 3G business.