TOT's 4G plans get regulator's go-ahead

TOT's 4G plans get regulator's go-ahead

TECH

After almost a year of unsettled legal issues, the telecom regulator says it will soon give TOT Plc the green light to launch fourth generation (4G) wireless broadband services through a partnership with private companies.

The approval comes after the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) settled legal issues surrounding public-private partnerships in telecom projects, enabling TOT to devise a new mobile strategic plan.

Takorn: No need for further delay PATTARACHAI PREECHAPANICH

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said the TOT's 4G business plan should be on the agenda of the NBTC's telecom committee meeting this week, and is expected to be approved.

He said the regulator has enough information from TOT regarding the legality of the public-private partnership, 4G business strategies and the usage plan for its existing 2300-megahertz spectrum that can be used until 2025.

"We see no need for any further delay of TOT's 4G plans," Mr Takorn said.

TOT president Monchai Noosong and senior executive vice-president Rungsun Channarukul met Mr Takorn last Monday to clarify the details.

Last month, the telecom committee turned down TOT's revised business plan to launch 4G services on its 2300MHz spectrum as it was concerned the state enterprise's 4G business model would violate Section 46 of the Frequency Allocation Act.

Section 46 requires all licence holders to operate business on their own frequencies, instead of allocating other parties to do it on their behalf.

The committee also doubted TOT's ability to use efficiently its 60MHz of bandwidth on the 2300MHz spectrum after the regulator approved the state enterprise's usage of the spectrum to provide 4G services until 2025.

TOT will have to return part of the 60MHz of bandwidth to the regulator if it fails to use the spectrum's bandwidth effectively, warned the committee.

Mr Takorn said the head of TOT pledged to provide 4G services under partnership models with CAT Telecom and True Move similar to those used to provide 3G services on the 850MHz spectrum.

Mr Monchai insisted TOT will manage and operate the spectrum internally, not with a private partner.

Mr Takorn, however, said when TOT secures a private partnership the NBTC will be monitoring closely ensure that the state enterprise does not violate the Frequency Allocation Act.

TOT is also in the process of selecting a partner to help the state enterprise provide 4G services on the 2300MHz spectrum. Last month, 13 companies picked up bid documents from TOT.

All prospective bidders have to submit proposals to TOT on March 27 for consideration under the beauty contest method. The winning bid will be announced by May, Mr Rungsun said.

TOT will seek a partner under a 10-year wholesale-resale agreement for its mobile service on the 2300MHz spectrum. Potential partners have to propose network investment plans to cover 80% of the population within five years, and commit to rent 60% of TOT's 2300MHz network capacity to others.

TOT will use the remaining capacity to partially provide 4G service through its own operations, expected to be launched by October.

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