AIS gears up for 4G network expansion

Mobile data demand set to surge next year

Advanced Info Service, the country's largest mobile operator, is gearing up for fourth-generation (4G) network expansion on multi-frequency networks next year.

AIS, which is celebrating its 23rd anniversary, has prepared evolution on the path towards 4G services since last year, says Mr Wichian. PATPAT JANTHONG

AIS chief executive Wichian Mektrakarn said it could not afford to lose the auction for the 1800-megahertz frequency planned for next September.

The frequency is designated to be developed for 4G mobile broadband services. Mobile operators True Move and Digital Phone Co, a unit of AIS, last month returned the 1800-MHz frequency to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) after their concessions had expired.

"We have prepared evolution on the path towards 4G since last year," Mr Wichian said on the 23rd anniversary of AIS.

AIS operates cellular services on 17.5 MHz of the 900-MHz spectrum under a concession agreement with TOT, which is due to expire in 2015. The company paid 24 billion baht for concession revenue to the state telecom enterprise last year.

AIS also provides 3G services on the 2100-MHz spectrum under a 15-year licensing agreement with the NBTC. The 2100-MHz band can be upgraded to the 4G system.

Mr Wichian said AIS has 37 million subscribers, 10.8 million of which are 3G users. The number of 3G customers is set to reach 12 million this year.

He added that Thailand is now ready for 4G, evidenced by the 120% increase in the overall mobile data traffic and the exponential increase in smartphone sales.

AIS launched a 4G mobile trial two years ago.

Mr Wichian said mobile data consumption is expected to surge significantly next year, with video streaming accounting for a major share.

AIS plans to stop providing the 2G service after its concession expires in 2015 as the local mobile market will shift towards 3G and 4G platforms.

Shares of ADVANC closed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 257 baht yesterday, up two baht, in trade worth 1.14 billion baht.

About the author

Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana
Position: Senior Business Reporter