Thailand's looming spectrum crunch: part 2

Don Sambandaraksa
telecomasia.net
 
Faced with a spectrum shortage, Thai operators are being forced to take action.
 
Saran Phaloprakarn, AIS’ senior vice president for network and planning, spoke of how AIS was already experiencing a spectrum crunch and had to resort to small cells to provide a quality service less than a year after being allocated its 3G license.
 
AIS has partnered with GMMz for TV on-demand to meet the challenge that TrueMove and TrueVisions is offering.
 
Saran compared AIS, which effectively only has 15 MHz (as its 17.5 MHz on 900 is ending in 2015) to operators in Japan. NTT has 61 MHz, KDDI has 36 and Softbank has 32 with more coming online in 2015 from refarmed spectrum.
 
In comparison, before last year’s 2.1-GHz auction, all the operators in Thailand had just 45 MHz for mobile broadband between them - CAT/True 15 MHz on the 850-MHz band, Dtac 10 MHz on 850-MHz and AIS with 5 MHz on 900-MHz with TOT with 15 MHz on 2100-MHz. The auction added an extra 45 MHz each to the three private sector operators for a grand total of 90 MHz.
 
He said that with densification, WiFi offload, MIMO, beam-forming and moving from W-CDMA to OFDMA capacity would only increase threefold. Assuming that 10 MHz would be used by each operator to serve 2G subscribers once the 1800- and 900-MHz bands are re-auctioned that would bring the total mobile broadband spectrum in Thailand up to 152.5 MHz, which would be just enough to meet projected demand by 2018.
 
If 1800- and 900-MHz bands are not efficiently reallocated, Thailand would face a spectrum crisis, he warned
 
AIS is concentrating on its 2.1-GHz network as there is a risk that it will not win the 900 MHz that is up for renewal in 2015. If after 2015 it wins the same amount of spectrum back, Saran said that it would consider putting two (5 MHz) carriers on 900 to go with the three on 2100.
 
Dtac regulatory division A-VP Atip Keeratipish said that while Thailand’s mobile penetration was at 136%, there was still room for growth as only 45% of subscribers use mobile Internet.
 
“We are the world’s capital of Facebook with 18 million Facebook uses in Bangkok. We have the same number of users, 18 million, using LINE, the largest outside of Korea,” he said.
 
Twitter, in comparison, was used by just 2 million in Thailand.
 

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