CAT approves DTAC infrastructure JV plan in attempt to end disputes

15 Jul 2015

State-owned Thai operator CAT Telecom’s board has approved a plan to form a 49:51 joint venture (JV) with Digital Total Access Communication (DTAC) for managing the latter’s wireless tower and fibre transmission infrastructure which was deployed under DTAC’s build-transfer-operate (BTO) concession issued by CAT. As reported by The Nation, the proposed Tower & Fibre Joint Venture Co – to be majority-owned by DTAC – is aimed at ending a legal dispute over the ownership of the network, valued at more than THB10 billion (USD293 million).

Sanpachai Huvanandana, acting CEO of CAT, said DTAC would be required to inject cash into the JV proportional to its shareholding, and transfer the relevant network components to the JV, and in return could continue using the network until its BTO concession ends in 2018 without having to pay any rent. DTAC, a subsidiary of Norway’s Telenor, declined to comment on the matter on Monday.

A legal dispute over 10,419 towers deployed under the 1800MHz BTO concession is ongoing, with DTAC having refused to transfer the assets to CAT. Furthermore, on 21 May this year DTAC received an order from the Central Administrative Court to cease installation or connection of its 2100MHz 3G/4G infrastructure which it operates under a full facilities-based (Type 3) licence but which also shares connectivity and physical sites with the original BTO network elements. Although DTAC has appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court, Sanpachai was quoted as saying that the 21 May ruling had given CAT bargaining power in setting up the JV with the private sector operator.