TOT calls off tower JV talks with AIS

06 Oct 2015

Thai state-owned operator TOT has called off negotiations with concessionaire AIS to form a joint venture to operate telecom tower sites, the Bangkok Postreported.

AIS had proposed to form the venture to operate over 13,000 2G towers, to enable it to continue using the towers following the expiration of its 2G concession agreement with the state-owned operator.

But TOT has now decided it wants AIS to transfer the towers to the operator and pay rental fees in exchange for its use.

The concession was designed under the old build-operate-transfer model, which requires private operators to transfer their mobile networks to the concession owners after its expiry.

AIS' 25-year 2G concession expired at the end of last month, but the company has yet to transfer its towers to TOT. As a result TOT plans to file a petition against AIS seeking an interim injunction against AIS' use of the towers.

This could be complicated by the fact that regulator NBTC recently ordered the operator to continue serving its existing 2.4 million 2G customers for a further four months.

The report also cites an industry source expressing the belief that TOT lacks the experience and skilled workers required to manage telecom towers.

AIS' main operations are its 3G network on the 2100-MHz band. The company has about 40 million subscribers and 20,000 3G base stations.

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