dtac, Thailand’s third-largest mobile operator, is holding discussions with state-owned CAT Telecom to renegotiate a long-term infrastructure partnership after a previous joint-venture agreement was scrapped, Bangkok Post reported.
The Council of State ruled a network partnership signed in 2015 which gave dtac a 51 per cent stake did not comply with the law, which requires the government to have at least 51 per cent in core state infrastructure projects, the newspaper said.
A new infrastructure leasing partnership would allow CAT to continue using dtac’s 2G towers and transmission equipment after the operator’s concession with CAT expires on 15 September. The current concession allows the state-owned company to operate mobile service on the 850MHz and 1.8GHz bands. They also want to expand the partnership to include all spectrum bands.
Rajiv Bawa, dtac’s chief of corporate affairs and business development officer, said a long-term partnership should last at least ten years, after which CAT would own 100 per cent of the 2G telecoms assets under a build, operate, transfer arrangement, Bangkok Post reported. Dtac is yet to transfer its 9,000 2G towers to CAT.
dtac, owned by Norway-based Telenor, experienced a tough start to the year. It lost market share, falling to number three behind rival True, and last week announced its CEO Lars-Ake Norling will leave in Q3. The latest blow for the company was the telecoms regulator delaying a planned spectrum auction until after its concession with CAT expires.
The delay is a huge setback because its concession with CAT expires in September, after which time it will have limited spectrum resources. dtac didn’t participate in auctions in late 2015 which raised THB232.66 billion ($7.5 billion) for the government.