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DTAC eager for 1,800MHz auction to allow full 4G service

Total Access Communication (DTAC) is keen to take part in the auction for the 1,800-megahertz spectrum, which is expected to be held this year, to clinch enough additional bandwidth to offer quality fourth-generation wireless broadband.

Chief executive officer Jon Eddy Abdullah said DTAC would spend around Bt300 million to set up 300 base stations for 4G service this year, mainly in Bangkok, using its existing 2.1-gigahertz spectrum. The launch of this 4G-2.1GHz service, which is expected to take place next quarter, is just to serve customers temporarily before obtaining access to the 1,800MHz spectrum.

The company's wholly owned subsidiary DTAC TriNet (DTN) is one of three holders of 2.1GHz licences granted by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) last December. The other two are Advanced Wireless Network (AWN) of Advanced Info Service (AIS) and Real Future of True Corp.

The NBTC is expected to hold an auction this year for either the 1,800MHz spectrum alone or both the 1,800MHz and 900MHz spectra at the same time, pending a final decision on the format.

Abdullah said DTAC was looking forward to the auction as it needs at least 10MHz bandwidth of the 1,800MHz spectrum to launch 4G service fully. It is interested in clinching a piece of the 900MHz spectrum as well.

Higher bid price

He believes that the winning bid price for 900MHz may be higher than for 1,800MHz, so DTAC will focus on the latter. But this will depend on which auction method the NBTC finally decides on.

DTN expects that 95 per cent of DTAC's more than 28 million current customers will move to its 2.1GHz network this year. DTN currently has 14 million users. DTAC plans to launch more models of its in-house smartphone brand TriNet, targeting sales of 500,000 units this year, up from 300,000 last year.

DTAC offers conventional 2G cellular service on 1,800MHz and 3G wireless broadband on 850MHz, while DTN provides 3G service on 2.1GHz. The group has around 11,000 3G cellular sites, of which 6,000 are on 2.1GHz and the rest on 850MHz.

By June, the total number of its 2.1GHz base stations is to reach 11,000, which will cover 80 per cent of the population.

DTAC announced an investment budget of Bt12.7 billion this year, mostly for the 2.1GHz network roll-out, compared with Bt14.4 billion last year.

Abdullah said DTAC had targeted revenue growth of 5.3 per cent this year to more than Bt100 billion.

According to its filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand this week on its 2013 financial performance, DTAC's revenue grew by 5.7 per cent year on year to Bt94.6 billion. It expects revenue this year to grow by 3-5 per cent, supported by growth of data revenue.

Its share price yesterday closed at Bt100.50, up 1.52 per cent.


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