Thai state-owned telco CAT Telecom has carried out a 4G LTE feasibility study with SK Telecom (SKT) of South Korea, after the pair recently signed an agreement to explore future collaborations, reports The Nation. The partners surveyed Bangkok and central, northern, northeast and southern regions of Thailand, and conclude that there was significant demand for 4G, especially from city dwellers aged below 30; around 49% used smartphones, and amongst the remainder using feature phones 61% were willing to upgrade to a smartphone. Meanwhile CAT is in negotiations with private sector Thai cellco DTAC on the possibility of launching a joint venture 1800MHz LTE service utilising a spare 25MHz portion of spectrum issued to DTAC by CAT under a build-transfer-operate (BTO) operating concession expiring in 2018, while CAT is also lobbying the regulator, the NBTC for the rights to continue using this 1800MHz block beyond that date. CAT’s president was quoted by The Nation as saying: ‘If we are not allowed to use this spectrum, it is possible for us to join with SKT to enter the NBTC’s 1800MHz auction next year [expected in Q4 2014]. Since we already have 15MHz bandwidth of 800MHz, we are interested in 1800MHz in order to develop the 4G service.’
Also reported by The Nation, CAT is planning to invest THB300 million (USD9.5 million) in marketing a ‘relaunch’ of its low-profile ‘My 3G’ W-CDMA/HSPA+ 850MHz service in January 2014, with the goal of signing up over 700,000 users next year, one million in 2015, 1.3 million in 2016 and 1.5 million in 2017. The retail My 3G service is operated over the same nationwide 850MHz 3G network as True Corp’s True Move H service (via a leasing arrangement with True subsidiary BFKT), but reportedly has only around 170,000 subscribers at present. CAT wholesales the lion’s share of BFKT’s network capacity to True’s Real Move unit, with the remainder utilised by My 3G.