Thai state-owned operator TOT has named dtac as its preferred partner to help it launch its 4G offering via the 2.3GHz band.
Telenor subsidiary dtac is the third largest operator in Thailand, and was previously identified as being the most likely candidate to have its proposal for launching 4G accepted by TOT. The two operators are looking to sign a definitive agreement in Q4 2017 once they have obtained the requisite government approvals and agreed terms and conditions.
The state operator TOT has 60MHz of spectrum in the 2.3GHz band licensed until 2025, and is looking to lease out 60% of this capacity. It is charging a fixed annual fee of THB4.5 billion ($131 million) on the condition that the leaser must provide coverage that reaches 80% of Thailand’s population within the next five years. A total of thirteen companies expressed interest in running the service.
Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke stated that the agreement was a boon to dtac, noting “access to significant spectrum resources on both the 2.1GHz and the 2.3GHz frequency bands will make us well positioned to continue to serve our Thai customers with quality services.”
However, while the deal will augment dtac’s spectrum holding in the short term, the operator’s growing mobile operations mean that its relative shortage of spectrum will continue to be a problem for it as it deploys services over the next two years.
While TOT’s proposed 4G service has not yet received approval from the regulator NBTC (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission), it is expected to do so following the resolution of a long-running legal issue concerning public-private partnerships.