25 Jan 2016
Thailand’s largest cellco by users AIS is officially launching its 4G service using its recently-won technology-neutral 1800MHz licence this week, entering the LTE market for the first time, in competition with DTAC and True Corp. AIS won an 1800MHz 4G licence at auction in November 2015 alongside True, whilst in the same month DTAC launched LTE-1800 services under regulatory permission to refarm 2G 1800MHz spectrum (although DTAC’s current permit expires in September 2018, compared to AIS and True’s new 18-year 1800MHz concessions). True and DTAC already offered LTE in the 2100MHz band, whereas AIS currently dedicates all its 2100MHz spectrum to 3G.
According to The Nation, AIS has reached another milestone by agreeing to hand over the ownership of 13,198 wireless towers to end an arbitration dispute with state-run telco TOT. The towers were deployed under AIS’ 900MHz 2G build-transfer-operate (BTO) concession with TOT. The newspaper quotes TOT’s acting president Montchai Noosong saying that AIS has also proposed to rent all these towers and 900MHz cellular base stations from TOT for 15 years, at a proposed fee of THB5.6 billion (USD155 million) per year for the first five years, and THB3.6 billion per year for the remaining ten. AIS also proposed to pay a rental fee for two years on behalf of TOT for the land plots on which these telecom towers are located, Montchai said. AIS failed to secure a 900MHz technology-neutral licence in the auction of December 2015, being outbid by True and Jas Mobile.