IT & TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Total Access Communication, the mobile operator of DTAC, is proposing another trade-off with regulators in its latest bid to get much-sought-after fourth-generation (4G) mobile broadband service off the ground.
The new proposal seems to widen the scope of benefits for all related parties.
Chief executive Jon Eddy Abdullah said DTAC has raised two options.
One is for the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to let DTAC provide 4G service on its unused portion of the 1800-megahertz frequency under a 2G concession with CAT Telecom.
The alternative is to return the unused 25 MHz of mobile spectrum to the NBTC for auction.
"We prefer the option for auction, as it will benefit all parties and the country," said Mr Abdullah.
He said DTAC is scheduled to discuss the proposals with the NBTC next week.
DTAC maintains that it could run 4G service under the existing 2G concession, noting that mobile operators are also allowed to upgrade their 2G networks to 3G using high-speed packet access technology.
Mr Abdullah insists that DTAC will not return the unused spectrum to CAT for the state agency's own service as ordered by the information and communication technology minister.
"The unused portion should be auctioned for 4G service in compliance with the Frequency Allocation Act, which stipulates that spectra can only be allocated via an auction," Mr Abdullah said.
DTAC has 50 MHz of the 1800-MHz spectrum under a concession from CAT that expires in 2018.
Mr Abdullah said Thailand needs 4G now or it risks falling behind its neighbours.
Parent firm Telenor earlier said it was ready to invest in Thai 4G after DTAC posted surprisingly high data revenue growth.
Likewise, Mr Abdullah said the second-largest mobile operator posted unexpectedly strong operating results for the first three quarters of the year.
He attributed the solid growth to DTAC's organisational restructuring, full network coverage and attractive mobile tariff offerings.
"We expect to maintain high single-digit revenue growth this year," he said.
DTAC's 3G network claims coverage of half the population, rising to 55% by the end of 2013. The company expects to have 10 million 3G subscribers by year-end, up from 5 million now.
Mr Abdullah said 1 million of DTAC's 3G users have 4G-enabled devices and half of them are seen upgrading to 4G.
About 20% of DTAC's mobile data traffic runs on 4G-compatible devices, he said.
About the author
- Writer: Srisamorn Phoosuphanusorn
Position: Deputy Business Editor