The Nation


AIS kicks off 3G in Bangkok, 7 provinces

Advanced Info Service (AIS) will start roaming its customers on TOT's third-generation network for wireless broadband service on October 7.

AIS chief executive officer Wichian Mektakarn said yesterday that this deal would enable the company to expand its 3G service offerings quickly.AIS signed the deal with TOT initially to allow its 60,000 customers to access TOT's existing 3G network in Greater Bangkok and upcoming nationwide network for data services. A maximum of 1 million AIS customers will be allowed to roam on the networks in one year. AIS expects significant growth in data revenue this year, after the full launch of its 3G wireless broadband service yesterday and a host of content and applications. However, Wichian declined to specify the estimated revenue growth.AIS debuted the full launch of its 3G service in Bangkok and seven other major provinces, namely Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Songkhla (Hat Yai), Phuket, southern Phetchaburi and northern Prachuap Khiri Khan (Cha-am-Hua Hin-Pranburi), and Nakhon Ratchasima. The launch followed expansion of its 3G base stations to 1,884 in these provinces, up from about 100 bases a few years ago. Maximum connection speed is 21.6 megabits per second.Currently AIS has about 200,000 3G customers. It declined to specify how many more customers it is targeting this year for the service.As part of the full 3G launch, it has also upgraded the wireless connection speed on its conventional data network to 384 kilobits per second from the previous 296kb/sec.AIS has said many times that it considers its 3G service on the 900-megahertz spectrum just an interim solution in the ongoing upgrade of wireless broadband. It is eager to bid for a licence for the 2.1-gigahertz spectrum from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, which is expected to get off the ground this year.Chief operating officer Mark Chong Chin Kok said AIS was expected to invest more once it gets the 2.1GHz spectrum licence.Wichian said AIS was also interested in joining with CAT Telecom and TOT to provide 3G service on their networks.AIS has 32 million mobile-phone subscribers, about 7.5 million of whom actively access wireless Internet on their devices every month. It is witnessing more than 4 million content downloads per month, up from 2.5 million per month last year.AIS also has partnered with leading music firms to offer wireless music downloads, for a total of more than 50,000 titles, and with book publishers to offer downloads of more than 100 magazines. That number is to exceed 1,000 by end of the year.

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