CAT could strike 4G deal with DTAC soon

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015

A partnership deal between CAT Telecom and its concession holder Total Access Communication to develop 4G service on the state agency's idle 20MHz of bandwidth on the 1800MHz spectrum could be finalised within the next two weeks, CAT's acting president, Colonel Sanphachai Huvanandana, said yesterday.

Talks on securing such a deal began on Monday.

Apart from the possible partnership with DTAC, CAT is seeking support from the government to extend its 1800MHz spectrum-use term to 2025, from 2018, when its current concession granted to DTAC expires.

CAT is currently consulting the Council of State over whether the idle 20MHz of the spectrum is under the concession contract.

It has asked the government to consider revising the draft of the new frequency allocation law to allow all state telecom agencies to extend the terms of their spectrum rights.

CAT has granted 25MHz of its 50MHz of 1800MHz bandwidth to DTAC, 5MHz to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) for auction, and wants to use the remaining 20MHz for offering 4G service.

Under the proposed partnership with DTAC, CAT would ask the telecom operator to invest in installing 4G equipment at DTAC's existing 1800MHz network base stations.

CAT would then use the 4G equipment to wholesale the capacity from the idle band to DTAC and other operators.

CAT has already asked the Central Administrative Court to drop its injunction, which prohibited DTAC from providing further network sharing by installing or connecting the equipment it operates under the CAT concession with the 3G and 4G equipment of another operator - in this case its subsidiary, DTAC TriNet.

Sanpachai said DTAC had already paid CAT the fee of around Bt670 million for using such equipment under the concession.

Once the injunction is dropped, CAT would use such equipment under its concession to wholesale 4G service, he added.

DTAC TriNet is one of the two bidders that failed to win an 1800MHz licence in the NBTC auction last week.

DTAC chief technology officer Prathet Tankuranun said yesterday that the company could maintain a competitive edge despite the failure to clinch a licence.

The company already has 1800MHz bandwidth under the concession, and believes that in the future the NBTC will make more and more new spectra available for auction, he said.

DTAC bid an "appropriate" final price of Bt17.504 billion for a licence at last week's auction, he added.

DTAC will complete the expansion of its 4G-1800MHz cellular base stations to 1,800 in the Bangkok metropolitan area within the next 18 days, from the current 700 bases.

The service will enhance its 4G service on 2.1GHz, which it currently operates in more than 40 provinces.

DTAC has launched 4G service on its NBTC 2.1GHz licence, and on 1800MHz under the CAT concession.

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