TOT plans to establish a telecom infrastructure fund to finance the removal of its overhead cable lines nationwide, and their replacement with underground cabling.
The underground-cable project is part of the government’s plan to move all telecom cable lines underground in the Bangkok metropolitan area and other major cities across the country.
This in turn forms part of the government’s digital-economy policy.
A TOT executive source said yesterday that the state agency was currently in the process of hiring a consultant to evaluate its cable-line assets nationwide, with a view to setting up the infrastructure fund.
Assets earmarked for the fund include its existing cable lines, planned new lines and planned underground viaducts.
TOT will generate revenue from these assets by leasing them to telecom operators.
The planned removal of its overhead cable lines will commence in the Bangkok metropolitan area, before expansion to other major cities.
TOT has around 20,000 kilometres of hanging cable lines in Bangkok and its suburbs.
Currently, there are two telecom infrastructure funds: True Corp’s Digital Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund, and Jasmine International’s Jasmine Broadband Internet Infrastructure Fund.
Information and Communications Technology Minister Uttama Savanayana recently ordered TOT and CAT Telecom to work together on two projects – the underground cable-line project and a submarine-cable project.
TOT is taking the lead on the former, and CAT on the latter.
The TOT source said that apart from the underground cable-line project, the state agency was considering whether to put its telecom towers into the infrastructure fund, as well.
TOT has around 20,000 telecom towers, including those under its concession contract with Advanced Info Service (AIS).
TOT and AIS are in dispute over ownership of the 13,000 towers in the concession, with the matter being considered by an arbitration panel.