Thailand’s third largest operator True Move, after winning 4G spectrum in last month’s auction along with rival AIS, announced plans to launch service on its new 1.8GHz airwaves next week.
Market leader AIS and True outbid two rivals to win the country’s first nationwide 4G licences, each paying more than $1 billion for 15MHz of 1.8GHz spectrum.
True’s quick deployment is aimed at gaining the PR value from launching ahead of market leader AIS, which last week said it will launch its first 4G service in mid-December.
Neither operator stated the specific areas to be covered. Both companies run 2G services under concession agreements on the 1.8GHz band, which expired in September. So they have the base stations in place and just need to upgrade the gear to 4G, something industry sources told Mobile World Live may have been implemented leading up to the auction.
True launched 4G on the 2.1GHz band two years ago and has about 1.7 million 4G users, mostly in the Bangkok area, according to GSMA Intelligence. Number two dtac also offers 4G on a limited scale in Bangkok on the same band. It has about 1.6 million 4G connections.
True executives stressed that it has 25MHz of 4G spectrum (15MHz in the 1.8GHz and 10MHz in the 2.1GHz band) compared with AIS holding just 15MHz, the Bangkok Post reported.
Both operators are expected to compete fiercely, along with dtac and newcomer Jasmine International, in the 900MHz auction (two blocks of 10MHz) scheduled on 15 December.
The 4G auctions, which have been delayed by more than a year since the military coup in May 2014, were expected to raise more than $2 billion for the government.