CAT wants bands after concessions
Needed for wireless data development
CAT Telecom recently submitted a request to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Communication for permission to keep its 850-megahertz and 1,800MHz spectrum bands for many years to develop wireless broadband data services after its three private cellular concessions come to an end.
As part of the request, it asked the NBTC to allow it to keep the 850MHz band until August 2025, an extension from September 2018, when the concession it granted Total Access Communication (DTAC) ends.
CAT said it needed this band to provide national wireless data roaming service. Currently, DTAC uses this band to offer third-generation cellular service under its concession.
CAT has also asked the NBTC to allow it to keep the 1,800MHz band of TrueMove until August 2025, an extension from September 15 this year, when TrueMove's concession ends. The state agency would use this band to serve TrueMove's customers after the latter's concession ends.
CAT believes TrueMove will not be able to migrate all 18 million subscribers to other networks on time once its concession ends. CAT estimates that there will be as many as 10 million customers left on TrueMove's network in September, so CAT needs to use this 1,800MHz band to serve these customers.
In addition, it would use this same spectrum band to serve DTAC's customers when that telecom's concession ends. CAT estimates there will be 1.5 million customers left on DTAC's network when the concession expires. DTAC currently has more than 25.3 million customers.
CAT say it also needs the NBTC to allow it to keep the 1,800MHz band, which is being used by Digital Phone Co (DPC), until September 2016, an extension from the expiration of DPC's concession on September 15. CAT owns the concessions of both DPC and TrueMove.
As in the case of TrueMove, CAT claims that it needs this spectrum band to serve some DPC customers who might fail to move to different networks after the concession expires. DPC currently has 80,000 subscribers. CAT will also use this spectrum band to provide a roaming service to telecom operators. Currently, DPC provides a network roaming service to customers of its parent, Advanced Info Service (AIS), totalling 10 billion minutes per year.
Moreover, the state agency wants the NBTC to allow it to keep the half of DTAC's 1,800MHz spectrum that DTAC does not use until August 2025, an extension from the time that DTAC's concession ends, to provide fourth-generation broadband cellular service.
During the next three years, CAT will hire companies to develop a billing system and provide maintenance to its telecom networks as part of its move to take care of DPC and TrueMove customers after the firms' concessions expire.
On a build-transfer-operate contractual basis, TrueMove will have to transfer all 6,977 of its base stations, plus DPC's 179 stations, to CAT. DTAC also has to transfer more than 7,000 base stations to CAT on a similar basis.
CAT plans to spend Bt27.77 billion from 2014 to 2020 to set up 14,000 4G-network sites. It claims that if it can keep all these spectra, it will be able to save 40 per cent on the cost of the 4G roll-out.
But it remains to be seen whether the NBTC will grant all its requests. The watchdog is eager to reclaim the spectra from all state telecom agencies once their private cellular concessions end, and to reallocate them by means of auction.
Last week it approved the appointment of a committee to draw up a plan to auction the 1,800MHz bands of TrueMove and DPC.