Advanced Info Service (AIS) plans to end second-generation (2G) mobile service after its concession expires in 2015, says the head of the country's largest mobile company.
Executive chairman Somprasong Boonyachai on Friday said market forces and a greater variety of 3G devices will boost demand for both 3G and 4G.
AIS will provide voice service on the 2.1-gigahertz and 1800-megahertz spectra using 3G and 4G technology, respectively.
Mr Somprasong believes the switch to 3G and 4G will be quick, similar to when analogue 1G shifted to digital 2G.
"But we expect to see a clearer picture next year," he said.
A mobile phone's shelf life is only 24 months for the average consumer thanks to the slew of new multiband phone offerings and lower handset prices.
AIS has 37 million subscribers including 2.5 million 3G customers.
AIS's concession agreement with TOT Plc on the 900-MHz spectrum will expire in 2015.
The company has a licence under the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to provide 3G service on the 2.1-GHz frequency.
Mr Somprasong said AIS customers using 2G services after 2015 will be offered a choice of attractive devices and tariff plans to migrate to its 3G networks.
NBTC member Prawit Leesathapornwongsa said AIS has the right to provide service using any technology it chooses after its concession expires.
However, DTAC must continue providing 2G service on the 1800-MHz spectrum until its concession with CAT Telecom ends in 2018.
Mr Somprasong also said AIS is eager to see the NBTC's auction for 25 MHz of the 1800-MHz spectrum now held by True Move and Digital Phone Co (DPC), the latter a unit of AIS.
On Sept 15, the concessions for True Move and DPC will expire under agreements with CAT Telecom.
"If we win the auction, we plan to use the spectrum for 4G service," he said.
The NBTC recently approved a draft regulation allowing True Move and DPC a one-year transition period to continue operating 2G service after their concessions expire.
Both mobile operators will be required to pay the NBTC only 16.75% under a new licensing fee structure compared with 25-30% under present revenue-sharing agreements with CAT to operate 2G service.
Mr Somprasong said DPC intends to continue sharing 30% of its revenue with the government _ but not with state agency CAT _ during the transition period.
About the author
- Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana
Position: Senior Business Reporter