Total Access Communication (DTAC) plans to stop further investment on the expansion of its 3G-850MHz network and swing its investment priority to the 2.1GHz network preparing itself for the 4G network, if it wins licences for the 2.1-gigahertz spectrum in the upcoming auction.
The second-largest mobile operator currently offers 3G service on the analogue 850-megahertz frequency, which has a limited capacity.
It also outlined a plan to launch a 4G mobile service on its existing analogue 1800-MHz frequency, which is 4G-ready, once the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) issues licences.
The strategic moves by DTAC are apparently intended to escape the limitations of its current concession contract and move forward with new investment under a new licensing regime.
The announcement came two weeks before the 3G auction on the 2.1-GHz spectrum which is scheduled to take place on 16 October 2012.
Chief executive Jon Eddy Abdullah said DTAC will freeze network investment for the existing 3G trial service using high-speed packet access technology once it obtains a 3G licence.
“We will swing our investment priority to the 2.1-GHz spectrum instead,” he said.
The other two bidders are Advanced Wireless Network and True’s subsidiary Real Future.
DTAC plans to increase the number of 3G base stations to 5,000 sites this year to cover half the population from the current 3,500 bases.
“These 850-MHz networks will be especially designed to serve customers upcountry instead,” said Mr. Abdullah.
Mr. Abdullah said DTAC will spend 40 billion baht on 3G over the next three years. Of the total, 15-20 billion baht is slated for bidding on the 3G licence, another 10 million baht will be used to roll out 3G network nationwide covering half the population within two years, and the rest will be reserved for expanding the 3G network to cover 80% of the population.
“Given our healthy financial status coinciding with strong technical support and whole network upgrade, we’re now ready and eager to join the 3G auction,” said Mr. Abdullah.
He said DTAC expects to start providing 3G service on the 2.1-GHz spectrum by next June.
“We will completely migrate our existing 2G users, who are willing to transfer to the new 2.1-GHz 3G network service within four years,” he said.