Thailand’s state-owned telecoms operator TOT selected the country’s third largest mobile player dtac as its preferred partner to deploy 4G service on the 2.3GHz band.
TOT holds 60MHz of spectrum on the 2.3GHz band until 2025. It plans to rent out 60 per cent of the capacity for a fixed annual fee of THB4.5 billion ($131 million). The service must cover 80 per cent of the population within five years.
TOT and dtac, a subsidiary of Norway-headquartered Telenor, said they aim to sign a final agreement in Q4 2017, after concluding negotiations of term and conditions, and securing approvals with the necessary government agencies.
Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke said TOT’s selection provides clarity on dtac’s spectrum position in Thailand: “Access to significant spectrum resources on both the 2.1GHz and the 2.3GHz frequency bands will make us well positioned to continue to serve our Thai customers with quality services,” he explained.
The win will boost dtac’s spectrum holdings, at least in the short term. However, Fitch Ratings noted in April the contract alone is unlikely to solve all dtac’s spectrum shortage problems, as more will be required over the next two years to support its growing mobile operations over the medium term.
TOT is expected to receive approval from the country’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to move ahead with a planned 4G service launch after the regulator settled a long-standing legal dispute about public-private partnerships.
A dozen other companies expressed interest in running TOT’s 4G service.