InTouch earmarks Bt21 bn for 3G, planned digital TV channel
InTouch Group will spend more than Bt21 billion this year on its third-generation cellular and upcoming terrestrial digital TV businesses, both of which will mark new territory for the company.
Somprasong Boonyachai, vice chairman of the Advanced Info Service board, said at an "AIS Vision 2013" event yesterday that the telecom would spend at least Bt20 billion this year to establish the nationwide network for the 3G network of AIS subsidiary Advanced Wireless Network.
AWN holds a licence to operate the 3G service on the 2.1-gigahertz spectrum, granted by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) last month.
AWN will set up about 10,000 3G base stations this year, of which about 6,000 will cover 18 major provinces in the first half of this year. The network in this phase will cater to about 5 million subscribers.
AWN has requested 14 million mobile-phone numbers from the NBTC.
AIS chief executive officer Wichian Mektrakarn said it would also partner with its state concession holder TOT to set up part of the AWN network on a co-site basis.
All three 2.1GHz licence holders, AWN, DTAC Network of Total Access Communication (DTAC), and Real Future of True Corp, are expected to kick off 3G service in the second quarter.
Somprasong added that InTouch, formerly known as Shin Corp, would also spend about Bt1 billion to bid for a licence from the NBTC to operate a terrestrial digital TV channel. But he declined to specify how many licences the company had targeted.
The NBTC is expected to auction the digital TV channel licences this year.
InTouch satellite operator Thaicom is expected to spend about US$200 million (Bt6 billion) on the development of the Thaicom 7 broadcasting satellite, which is scheduled to be launched into the orbit next year, while its Thaicom6 is schedule to launch by this year at a cost of $160 million.