TOT seeks more trial partners

business December 31, 2011 00:00

By Usanee Mongkolporn
The Nation

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Agency explores new opportunities


TOT will accept more offers from telecommunication operators and equipment suppliers to test fourth-generation broadband cellular service jointly with the agency, said president Anont Tubtiang.
TOT has already joined with its concession holder Advanced Info Service (AIS) to offer 4G service using Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology on the state agency’s 2.3-gigahertz spectrum on a trial basis. TOT will use 20 megahertz of its total 64MHz bandwidth of the spectrum in the trial.
Anont said the trial, which would start next month in Bangkok before expanding to other major provinces, was meant to explore new business opportunities for TOT. 
The trial is also part of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission’s policy to allow telecom operators to test 4G on the 2.3GHz and 1,800MHz spectra. They can try offering the service for 90 days, which can be extended for another 90 days.
AIS subsidiary Digital Phone Co has also joined with CAT Telecom to test a 4G service on 1,800MHz in mid-January in Maha Sarakham province.
Recently TrueMove chief executive officer Supachai Chearavanont said his company was also interested in testing 4G service.
The NBTC intends to reclaim part of TOT’s 2.3GHz spectrum for reallocation, which will enable it to grant the licences to develop 4G service in the future. The now-defunct National Telecommunications Commission once floated the idea to TOT that the NTC would compensate the agency if it agreed to relinquish the 2.3GHz spectrum for reallocation.
The NBTC intends to auction the 2.3GHz-2.4GHz spectrum licences in 2013 or 2014. But whether the watchdog can do so depends on it reclaiming some of this spectrum band from the state holders first for reallocation.
The country’s 2.3GHz-2.4GHz spectrum band contains a bandwidth of 100MHz. Of the total, 64MHz bandwidth is owned by TOT and the rest is jointly held by military agencies. 
Fourth-generation technology offers mobile-device users faster and higher-quality service than 3G.