The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Minister outlined strategic plans for the two state telecom enterprises to set up their own infrastructure funds to survive after the expiry of their private cellular concessions.
Gp Capt Anudith Nakornthap, the ICT Minister, asked TOT Plc and CAT Telecom to conduct feasibility studies on setting up infrastructure funds to manage their network assets and enable a switch to network service providers.
"It's time for the two state enterprises to have their own funds, as True Move and Digital Phone's concessions are due to expire this month," he said.
Under the Frequency Allocation Act, state telecom enterprises will not be able to book all concession-related revenue on their financial statements as revenue, so starting from December TOT and CAT need to evaluate which assets will be included in the funds, he said.
Gp Capt Anudith acknowledged TOT previously planned to set up subsidiaries to provide telecom network rental services, but no progress was made. Under the old plan, TOT would gather all 13,000 stations from its mobile concessionaire Advanced Info Service (AIS), plus 5,200 of TOT's 3G bases under the first phase, as well as fibre-optical lines and 300,000 cement telecom poles throughout the country. The state enterprise would sell the infrastructure assets to the subsidiaries, then the latter would rent the infrastructure to other private firms.
Gp Capt Anudith said TOT and CAT urgently need to set up their own infrastructure funds in order to allow other professional firms to manage and maintain the networks on their behalf.
TOT and CAT may hold a majority stake of no more than 49% in the funds, with private firms holding the remainder.
True Corporation and Jasmine International Plc also announced plans to establish their own infrastructure funds, worth 50-70 billion baht each.
True plans to sell its 13,000 telecommunications towers, including 7,000 belonging to TrueMove and 6,000 from True Corp. BFKT (Thailand), a unit of True group, also has 1,400 telecom towers. The company aims to use the proceeds from the listing to repay debt and finance future business expansion.
Jasmine plans to sell or lease its nationwide broadband networks, comprising 610,000 core kilometres of fibre-optical cable and 16,000 access nodes. Jasmine plans to use the proceeds to expand its broadband network coverage.
Gp Capt Anudith is confident all the telecom funds will be combined into a single fund in the future for the utmost benefit to companies and the industry.
About the author
- Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana
Position: Senior Business Reporter