TOT told to team up with private company for 3G [Bangkok Post, Thailand]
(Bangkok Post (Thailand) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 19--The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry insists TOT Plc must partner with a local telecom as a condition of the contract for the second phase of the state enterprise's third-generation (3G) network expansion.
Gp Capt Anudith Nakornthap, the ICT minister, pointed out the first phase of TOT's 3G network construction was a failure, resulting in long delays to network installation and lost revenue.
Samart, in a consortium with Loxley Plc, won a contract from TOT to install 5,200 3G base stations in the project's first phase.
Construction work was initially required to be completed early last year, but Samart has so far installed only 4,900 bases, and the phase is not expected to be completed until the end of next month.
It blames the state enterprise's failure to find locations for mobile towers for the delay.
"A partnership model must be applied to TOT's second phase for greater sustainable business," Gp Capt Anudith said.
He said TOT is in talks with a few prospective private companies for a possible partnership in the second phase, expected to be concluded next month.
A qualified partner will be one offering the highest benefits to TOT and enhancing the state enterprise's role as a network service provider.
TOT's second phase involves installation of an additional 8,000 3G base stations.
Gp Capt Anudith stressed TOT must reposition itself as a network service provider and allow private companies to handle 3G or 4G commercial service on its network as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).
An MVNO is a company that provides mobile phone service but does not have its own licensed frequency allocation or infrastructure.
"TOT is not in a position to compete with private companies, especially in terms of funding," said Gp Capt Anudith.
TOT currently has 400,000 3G subscribers under the MVNO model.
Samart I-Mobile, a unit of Samart Corporation, has the highest number of MVNO subscribers.
From Dec 20 this year, TOT will no longer be able to book revenue shared under concessions on its financial statement, in accordance with the Frequency Allocation Act of 2010.
All concession-related revenue must be submitted to the state coffers.
TOT president Yongyuth Wattanasin earlier said TOT was considering several financial options to fund its second phase's 3G network expansion.
An infrastructure fund is a preferred financial tool due to its lower funding cost, he said.
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