Thai state-owned operator CAT Telecom says it might be forced to delay the launch of an expanded CDMA2000 1x mobile network until January 2007, because it is yet to complete a marketing plan, and also needs to install a billing system and ensure availability of handsets. Under its original plan, CAT was due to soft launch the new rural network in southern provinces before the end of June, over a network of 800 1x base stations it has already installed, ahead of a full launch in 51 provinces in January 2007. However, it now looks likely that it will wait until its 1x technology supplier, China’s Huawei Technologies, finishes deploying an additional 800 base stations, due by the end of the year.
CAT’s mobile joint venture with Hong Kong’s Hutchison, Hutchison CAT Wireless Multimedia, offers CDMA2000 1x voice and data services in 25 provinces in the greater Bangkok, eastern and western regions, and basic voice services roaming over CAT’s CDMA IS-95A network in major cities and towns in 51 other provinces, notes TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database. As part of a THB7.2 billion nationwide expansion programme, Huawei won a tender in January 2005 to roll out 1,600 CDMA 1x base stations, and completed the first phase in January 2006.