TOT, CAT eye infrastructure rental services
Feb 04, 2013 (Bangkok Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The two state telecom enterprises _ TOT Plc and CAT Telecom _ have outlined their plans to become telecom infrastructure rental service providers for digital-TV and mobile operators.
The moves are part of the state enterprises' survival plans in the digital era after their cellular concession contracts end, said Gp Capt Anudith Nakornthap, the information and communications technology minister.
TOT's three private telecom concessions, held by Advanced Info Service (AIS), True Corporation and TT&T, will end in 2015.
CAT's concessions with Digital Phone Co and True Move will end this September and with Total Access Communication in 2018.
In addition, the two state enterprises will not be able to book any concession-related revenue into their financial statements as their own after this year.
The Frequency Allocation Act stipulates TOT and CAT must transfer all concession revenue to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), which the watchdog will pass on to the state coffers.
Gp Capt Anudith said TOT and CAT on Wednesday will meet with relevant state authorities including representatives of the State Enterprise Policy Office and the National Economic and Social Development Board to discuss their survival.
The meeting will be chaired by the ICT minister.
He noted TOT has abundant infrastructure assets, with at least 13,000 cellular base stations from its concessionaire AIS, plus 5,200 of its own 3G base stations, and 300,000 cement telecom poles nationwide.
The state enterprise could sell and transfer all of its assets to its subsidiaries, which could then rent them to private firms.
"TOT can also provide some locations to install a broadcast network on a rental basis to digital TV licence holders," said Gp Capt Anudith, adding that CAT has strong fibre-optic networks throughout the country.
TOT chairman Udom Puasakul said his agency has implemented 17 measures related to its long-term survival.
"To become a network provider is crucial," he said.
Kittisak Sriprasert, CAT's chief executive, said the government is adjusting some details of its survival plan to lower operating costs.
CAT is in talks with the NBTC to seek the legal right to keep using the 1800-megahertz spectrum after the concessions end, he said.
The NBTC plans to start granting infrastructure-sharing licences for telecom services by September.
The infrastructure-sharing licences will include mobile towers and fibre-optic networks, allowing telecom operators to share their networks with each other.
Col Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the NBTC's broadcasting committee, said TOT has already applied for a facility licence with the regulator, which is being considered.
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