State-owned Thai telco TOT has permitted its former concession holder Advanced Info Service (AIS) to provide a ‘trial’ mobile broadband service on TOT’s 2100MHz spectrum band, The Nation reports. AIS, Thailand’s largest cellco by users, currently provides 3G/4G mobile broadband services using its own 2100MHz and 1800MHz spectrum (2×15MHz in each band), but is looking to access additional capacity to meet demand, having signed up more than five million 4G LTE users since launching the service in January. TOT president Montchai Noosong said that TOT had not yet permitted AIS to commercially use the spectrum but had allowed it to use it for technical preparations. A source from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) said that the watchdog had last week probed TOT’s decision to allow AIS to trial the service using 2×15MHz; the inquiry followed the lodging of an informal complaint in which it was claimed that TOT should not allow AIS to carry out the trial, as they had yet to sign the planned partnership deal. NBTC officials found that some AIS customers were using TOT’s 2100MHz spectrum, and therefore called in AIS and TOT for questioning last week. A proposed deal for a joint 2100MHz venture between TOT and AIS is currently being examined by the Office of the Attorney-General.
It is also reported that AIS has now successfully migrated around four million of some eleven million remaining 2G-only device users from its 900MHz network to its 3G/4G licence holding division Advanced Wireless Network (AWN) ahead of the looming final 900MHz (2G) switch-off, expected by the end of March, as regulator NBTC is due to issue a 900MHz concession to at least one of the 4G licence winners in the band (with True Corp having secured the licence fee funding and requisite bank guarantees, although the other winner, Jasmine, remains in doubt of raising the funds by the 21 March deadline). As part of AIS’ efforts to prevent service disruption to its 2G customers after the 900MHz service switch-off, it has reached an agreement with rival DTAC to allow 2G roaming onto DTAC’s 1800MHz network.