TOT expects to earn Bt10 bn a year from 900MHz service

Economy July 14, 2014 00:00

By Usanee Mongkolporn
The Nation

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Says it will provide 70 per cent of funds to Finance Ministry if it retains spectrum

TOT has claimed that it will be able to earn net profit of at least Bt10 billion per year on average through the 900MHz cellular service, provided it can retain the spectrum after 2015. 
This is part of the business plan it submitted to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) last week, a source from TOT said.
As part of the plan, the state agency asked the junta to seek ways for it to keep the 17.5MHz bandwidth of 900MHz after the 900MHz concession that TOT had granted to Advanced Info Service (AIS) expires next year.
TOT claims it will be able to earn at least Bt10 billion from the 900MHz cellular service from 2015 to 2030, though the source did not provide details on how the agency would be able to generate such substantial profit. 
However, the source did say that TOT planned to transfer up to 70 per cent or Bt7 billion of its Bt10 billion expected profit to the Finance Ministry over the next 15 years. It plans to spend the remainder on expanding its telecom networks to better serve the public and national security. 
From 2007 to 2012, TOT has paid 71 per cent of its net profit as dividends to the Finance Ministry. 
However, the state agency expects to suffer losses this year, considering it has had to hand all concession revenue to state coffers since last December as required by Article 84 of the 2010 Frequency Allocation Act. TOT also wants the NCPO to amend this law in order to prevent future losses. 
TOT has often been criticised for its operating inefficiency. It was the first operator to launch the 3G-2.1GHz wireless broadband network service in late 2009. As of March this year, TOT and its five 3G-service providing partners have only secured a combined 570,000 3G subscribers. 
Meanwhile, the National Broadcast-ing and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) initially planned to auction the 1,800MHz bands held by TrueMove and Digital Phone Co in August and the 900MHz held by AIS in November. However, the NCPO instructed the watchdog to suspend these auctions until it is given a clarification of the plan’s details. NBTC sent the junta the clarifications last week.