Thailand’s state-owned telecoms operator TOT is expected to receive approval from the country’s telecoms regulator to move ahead with a planned 4G service via a partnership with a private operator.
The announcement comes after the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) settled a long-standing legal dispute about public-private partnerships, the Bangkok Post reported. NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said TOT’s revisited 4G business plan is expected to be approved by NBTC’s telecoms committee this week.
TOT proposed launching 4G service on 60MHz of spectrum on the 2.3GHz band, which it holds a licence to use until 2025.
The telecom committee last month rejected TOT’s revised business plan over concerns the state enterprise’s business model would violate the Frequency Allocation Act, which requires all licence holders to operate business on their own frequencies instead of allocating the responsibility to other parties, the Post said.
TOT pledged to manage and operate the spectrum internally, not with a private partner, and committed to providing 4G services under the partnership model used by CAT Telecom and True for 3G services on the 850MHz band.
The committee warned TOT would have to return part of the 60MHz of bandwidth to the regulator if it fails to use the spectrum effectively, the Post reported. Takorn said the regulator will closely monitor TOT to ensure it doesn’t violate the act.
TOT plans to rent out 60 per cent of the capacity on the 2.3GHz band to a partner, with 13 companies expressing interest in running its 4G service, which must cover 80 per cent of the population within five years.
The winner bidder will be announced by May and TOT will use the remaining capacity to provide 4G service through its own operations, with service expected to be launched by October.