True pre-empts AIS in launching 4G service

True pre-empts AIS in launching 4G service

Move aims to maintain leadership in market

Thiti Nantapatsiri, True group executive director (second left) and Col Settapong Malisuwan, NBTC vice-chairman, hold the symbolic cheque representing two bank guarantees totalling 21.3 billion baht handed over by TMC yesterday. Flanking them are Wilaiwan Srisamrual, True chief financial officer for mobile business group (left) and Gen Sukij Kamasunthorm, an NBTC commissioner.
Thiti Nantapatsiri, True group executive director (second left) and Col Settapong Malisuwan, NBTC vice-chairman, hold the symbolic cheque representing two bank guarantees totalling 21.3 billion baht handed over by TMC yesterday. Flanking them are Wilaiwan Srisamrual, True chief financial officer for mobile business group (left) and Gen Sukij Kamasunthorm, an NBTC commissioner.

True Move, the country's third-largest mobile operator, plans to launch its mass-market fourth-generation (4G) wireless broadband service next week, ahead of bigger rival Advanced Info Service (AIS).

The pre-emptive move is aimed at maintaining its leadership in the 4G market and strengthening its position as the mobile operator with the highest amount of operating bandwidth to provide 4G.

Mobile leader AIS announced it will launch 4G commercial service in mid-December, two weeks after it obtained a licence to operate 4G service on 15 megahertz of bandwidth on the 1800-MHz spectrum.

AIS does not provide 4G yet in Thailand and the company has the least amount of bandwidth.

True, through True Move H Universal Communication (TMC), and AIS, through Advanced Wireless Network, each won a licence to provide 4G service on the 1800-MHz spectrum in a marathon 30 hours of bidding.

"We are preparing to launch our high-speed 4G service ahead of AIS to fight for a bigger market share," said Thiti Nantapatsiri, group executive director of True Corporation.

True now operates 4G service on the 10 MHz band of the 2100-MHz spectrum, launched two years ago. The company will roll out its 4G service on 15 MHz of the 1800-MHz spectrum next week.

"We have a combined 25 MHz of operating bandwidth for 4G commercial service, compared with AIS having only 15 MHz," he said. True is now the operator having the highest amount of 4G bandwidth.

Mr Thiti said as True Move was the first operator to introduce 4G, the company has early experience in the market and has implemented market pre-entry strategies.

TMC yesterday handed the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) two bank guarantees worth a combined 21.3 billion baht for the outstanding half of its 4G licence fee.

The NBTC will award a the licence to TMC at 11am tomorrow, an auspicious time requested by the company.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said True Move must switch off its 2G mobile signal on the 1800-MHz spectrum after midnight of Dec 4, as stipulated by the auction rules.

True Move previously operated 2G service on the 1800-MHz spectrum under a concession agreement with CAT Telecom. The concession expired in September 2013.

True Move has 43,000 customers on its 2G network. However, Mr Takorn said cutting the 2G signal will not affect True Move's existing 43,000 2G users because they will be transferred to the company's 4G network on the 1800-MHz spectrum, now owned by TMC.

TMC will send text messages to those 2G customers to inform them that the 2G service will, from tomorrow, be operated by the company.

Mr Thiti said TMC will reserve a portion of bandwidth on the 1800-MHz spectrum under the 4G licence to provide services for 2G users.

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