NBTC wants AIS to offer 2G 900MHz continuity via True roaming service for three months

9 Mar 2016

Thailand’s National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is backing a proposed commercial three-month arrangement under which mobile market leader Advanced Info Service (AIS) will serve its remaining 2G 900MHz customers via roaming on the 900MHz spectrum due to be awarded to rival True Corp later this month. Up until now AIS has utilised the 900MHz frequencies under permission to extend 2G service continuity beyond its 2G concession expiry (last September), but True won a technology-neutral spectrum licence for the 900MHz band in December, whilst AIS came away from the auction empty handed, meaning that it must finally vacate the band once True has paid for its licence – with payment scheduled for this month. According to the Bangkok Post, the NBTC is in favour of a plan under which True will charge AIS a spectrum rental fee of THB450 million (USD12.7 million) per month for the three-month period. ‘We don’t want to see eight million 2G users on the 900MHz network have to deal with a possible service disruption,’ said Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, who added that the NBTC’s telecom committee had reached a resolution to call all related parties to a meeting to discuss the 2G continuity plan, namely AIS, True and TOT (the state telco which originally issued AIS’ build-transfer-operate [BTO] 2G 900MHz concession, and which lays claim to 2G infrastructure deployed under the BTO framework). ‘If we fail to reach a conclusion, the NBTC will implement laws to retain customers for three months to ensure the public benefit,’ the official stated. TeleGeography notes that AIS has an existing contingency plan to allow remaining 2G users to roam on the 1800MHz network of its other main rival DTAC, whilst it attempts to complete the migration to 3G/4G networks via offers including free and subsidised handsets.