DTAC restarts infrastructure talks with CAT

DTAC restarts infrastructure talks with CAT

Partnership should last at least 10 years

Total Access Communication (DTAC), the country's third-largest mobile operator, has resumed negotiations with CAT Telecom over a new long-term telecom infrastructure partnership after both parties scrapped a joint-venture memorandum of understanding (MoU) they established in 2015.

Bawa: Ensuring use of transmission gear

The move is a clear response to last month's Council of State ruling, which stated that the joint venture in which CAT and DTAC would have held respective 49% and 51% stakes did not comply with significant conditions of constitutional law.

The law states that the government must own at least 51% of core state infrastructure projects.

Rajiv Bawa, chief of corporate affairs and business development officer at DTAC, said the latest move will ensure that 9,000 2G telecom towers and related transmission equipment under DTAC's 2G concession with CAT will continue being used after the expiry of the concession on Sept 15 this year.

DTAC and CAT are negotiating the details of a telecom infrastructure partnership, through which they can collaborate on any spectrum ranges, not just the 1800- and 850-megahertz spectra under the existing CAT concession.

A long-term telecom infrastructure partnership should last at least 10 years, Mr Bawa said.

He said CAT will still own 100% of the 2G telecom assets after the concession expires, even after negotiations are concluded. DTAC is partnering with CAT, giving the former the right to use the assets under terms and pay a rental fee to CAT.

The latest negotiation reiterates that DTAC wants to settle any previous dispute with CAT about telecom assets transfer under the 2G concession.

All telecom concessions in country have operated under a build-transfer-operate scheme. DTAC, however, has yet to transfer the 9,000 towers to CAT.

Mr Bawa said DTAC is preparing to continue serving its customers after the expiry of its 2G CAT Telecom concession on the 1800- and 850MHz spectra, in case the regulator delays the planned auction beyond the concession's expiry date.

"We [DTAC] need to assure our customers that the service will be provided even if the auction has not been set in motion after the concession ends," he said.

DTAC holds 90MHz of bandwidth (upload and download) on the 1800MHz spectrum and 10MHz of bandwidth on the 850MHz spectrum under CAT Telecom's concession.

DTAC, however, may only use the 50MHz bandwidth on the 1800MHz spectrum, since the concession stipulates that DTAC must use the full capacity of its 25MHz bandwidth before using the spectrum's remaining bandwidth.

DTAC holds an additional 30MHz of bandwidth (download and upload) on the 2100MHz spectrum under the licence system. DTAC failed to win a 4G licence during the 1800MHz and 900MHz spectrum auctions in 2015, while bigger rivals Advanced Info Service (AIS) and True Move both secured licences for each spectrum.

But DTAC, through DTAC TriNet, won a partnership deal with TOT to provide 4G LTE services via 60MHz of bandwidth on TOT's 2300MHz spectrum. The deal was approved by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission late last year.

The deal has to be approved by other agencies, including the Office of the Attorney-General, before commercial launch.


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