Thailand’s third largest operator True Move reached an agreement with state-owned CAT Telecom to lease 5,000 2G base stations from the state enterprise for THB35 million ($973,000) a month.

The open-ended deal also covers CAT’s in-building 2G network, but the rental price for that is still being negotiated, The Nation reported.

True, which has a 23 per cent market share and about 18 million mobile connections, has about 500,000 2G users on the network it operated under a concession with CAT, which expired more than a year ago.

Last month True paid more than $1 billion for 15MHz in the 1.8GHz band. It plans to use 10MHz for 4G service and the remaining 5MHz for 2G service for the next year, after which it will use the full 15MHz for 4G along with its 15MHz of 2.1GHz spectrum, the newspaper said.

True will participate in next week’s 900MHz spectrum auction, with fierce bidding expected and prices per licence forecast to be roughly the same as the 1.8GHz auction.

True is still in talks with CAT over the more than 8,000 towers it built under the 2G concession. True wants to end the dispute by adding the towers into its infrastructure fund — True Telecommunications Growth Infrastructure Fund.