AIS plots $323m network expansion

Dylan Bushell-Embling
25 Jan 2011

Thailand's AIS has announced plans to invest 10 billion baht ($323.1m) this year on expanding its mobile networks.

AIS, the nation's largest mobile operator, intends to spend three quarters of this budget expanding its 2G network, CEO Mark Chong Chin Kok told a news conference covered byReuters.

The remainder will go towards expanding its currently small 3G network on the 900MHz band, in order to address demand for 3G while it and the nation's other private operators wait for the nation to sort out the mess derailing plans for an 1800MHz spectrum auction.

The 3G upgrade will involve installing nearly 1,900 new base stations in major cities. To augment its data offerings, it also intends to launch Wi-Fi services by Q2.

AIS said it had also applied to offer 3G services via an MVNO agreement with either of the state-owned operators, TOT and CAT, which already have 1,800MHz licenses.

But its ongoing conflict with TOT and the government over concession fees may hold back efforts to reach a deal.

Demand for mobile data usage surged 100% in Thailand in 2010, according to the operator.

AIS is projecting that the Thai mobile industry will grow between 3% and 5% in 2011, and its own revenue will increase by a proportional amount.

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