Anudith okays TOT private ties

The information and communication technology minister has thrown his full support behind TOT Plc's plan to partner with private mobile operators in the second phase of its third-generation (3G) mobile service.

"It's clear the old way of doing business is losing its lustre," said Gp Capt Anudith Nakornthap.

He identified the 3G network contract between CAT Telecom and True Corporation as a "wise strategy" for the state telecom enterprise to expand business.

A final resolution of the second phase of TOT's 3G network expansion is expected to be announced by June.

TOT now provides 3G service on the 2100-megahertz spectrum via 4,200 base stations nationwide, to be expanded to 5,200 next month.

It plans to construct an additional 13,000 to 15,000 3G base stations in its second phase, a move aimed at competing with private mobile operators that are gearing up to roll out their own full 3G commercial service on the 2.1-gigahertz frequency.

But Gp Capt Anudith warned TOT to avoid the mistakes made in the first phase, which derailed the business.

TOT should seek private partners to help promote 3G service for mutual benefit, he suggested.

Regulations require state enterprises to seek government approval for any new investment projects.

Endorsements are needed for the project's feasibility draft and budget plan, taking into consideration ineffective measures under the current business environment.

"It's time for TOT to shift away from the existing red tape if it is to survive after its core concession revenue vanishes," said Gp Capt Anudith.

He said TOT should focus on its new position to become a network provider.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission two weeks ago approved three draft regulations governing telecom infrastructure sharing.

"This will be a good opportunity for TOT to become a full network provider under the new regulatory regime," said Gp Capt Anudith.

The three regulations, to be published in the Royal Gazette soon, govern mobile network sharing, mobile network roaming and mobile virtual network services.

Gp Capt Anudith believes the infrastructure-sharing business will generate a sustainable revenue stream for both TOT and CAT Telecom.

The 2013 Network Readiness Index (NRI) of the World Economic Forum (WEF) showed Thailand ranked 74th worldwide, up from 77th last year.

The NRI represents a country's infrastructure competitiveness.

The minister said the ICT Ministry expects Thailand to stand 70th in NRI rankings next year.

The WEF also ranked Thailand's e-government index at 20th, the same as France, up from 23rd last year.

About the author

Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana
Position: Senior Business Reporter