Final 2G phase-out periods agreed in Thailand

2 Jul 2015

Thailand’s two largest cellcos Advanced Info Service (AIS) and Total Access Communications (DTAC) have received the necessary permission and framework to administer their remaining 2G user bases up until their planned switch-off. The Bangkok Post reports that the telecom committee of the National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission has approved the draft rules under which both operators may continue providing 2G services after their 2G build-transfer-operate (BTO) 900MHz (AIS) and 1800MHz (DTAC) concessions expire, while continuing to share ‘a minimum’ of 30% of mobile revenue with the state during the ‘oversight period’. AIS operates GSM-900 services under a BTO concession issued by state-owned telco TOT which expires in September 2015, and currently has around 3.5 million 2G users (of a total of around 42 million). AIS expects to oversee 2G customers until February 2016, which is the effective cut-off point for migrating its legacy network users after the frequencies are reallocated in the NBTC’s scheduled 4G 1800MHz/900MHz auction in December 2015. DTAC has roughly five million GSM-1800 users among its approximately 28.5 million total base, but is less pressed for time; it is thought to be aiming to migrate all legacy 2G network users before the BTO concession (issued by CAT Telecom) ends in 2018. As previously announced, third-placed mobile player True Corp and AIS’ tiny subsidiary DPC are allowed to serve remaining 2G 1800MHz users for an extended oversight period until January 2016.