CAT sets aside Bt200m to woo CDMA subscribers over to My brand 3G service
CAT Telecom will spend Bt200 million in an attempt to persuade the 110,000 subscribers of its CDMA (code division multiple access) cellular service in 51 provinces to move to its third-generation service on the 850-megahertz spectrum, after the decision to switch off the CDMA network in March.
CAT chief executive officer Kittisak Sriprasert said yesterday that the sum would be used in a promotional campaign to woo CDMA customers, especially post-paid users, to the state agency's My brand 850MHz service. Some 90,000 of its 110,000 CDMA subscribers are prepaid users.
The decision to shut down the CDMA network in 51 provinces makes financial sense, he said, as CAT has experienced maintenance costs of Bt70 million a month in running the service.
CAT and two True Corp subsidiaries, Real Future and Real Move, signed deals in 2011 to forge a partnership to provide 3G-850MHz service. CAT retails the service on its own under the My brand, and wholesales the 850MHz bandwidth to Real Move to provide service under the TrueMove H brand.
In a related matter, CAT has proposed amended contracts of the 3G partnership for the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's consideration. This forms part of its joint amendment of the contracts with True group in order to comply with an NBTC order issued last June. The watchdog made the order after finding that the contracts breached the 2010 Frequency Allocation Act.
Contract amendment must show that CAT has full control over its 850MHz spectrum used under the partnership. Currently, Real Future's BKFT (Thailand) rents out 3G network equipment to CAT so that it can retail and wholesale the bandwidth.
Kittisak said that under the amended contracts, CAT could either permit BFKT to continue renting the equipment to CAT, or the state agency could invest in the 3G network on its own or open it up for other interested firms to do so.
However, both CAT and True must wait for the Council of State's opinion on whether their service partnership is subject to the 1992 State-Private Joint Venture Act before they can amend their contracts to satisfy the telecom regulator. If the council decides that the contracts are subject to the joint-venture law, they will need Cabinet approval. In that case, CAT and True will amend them to comply with both the joint-venture law and the Frequency Allocation Act at the same time.
In a separate matter, CAT yesterday granted a Bt2.28-billion contract to Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction to design and build its new headquarters compound, for which construction must be completed within 1,200 days. CAT will pay the first instalment of Bt340 million to Sino-Thai soon.
The compound, comprising three buildings, will be on 30 rai (4.8 hectares) on Chaeng Wattana Road. CAT's current head office is on the same road.
The project was initiated in 2009. CAT had previously planned to move its HQ to its 30-storey building in Bang Rak.