TOT seeks $275m for Wi-Fi rollout

TOT seeks $275m for Wi-Fi rollout

Don Sambandaraksa  |   April 12, 2012
telecomasia.net
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Thailand’s state-owned TOT Corporation has asked for $275 million (8.5 billion baht) to provide connectivity for the country’s one tablet per child project.
 
TOT has been tasked with installing 50,000 Wi-Fi access points in 30,000 schools to provide connectivity to the one million tablets that are expected to be distributed to primary one students in June.
 
The budget may cost the government nothing, as TOT proposes it be deducted from its USO contributions to the regulator, currently standing at 4% of revenue. The regulator is considering the proposal.
 
Meanwhile, the tablet project is still struggling with delays. After being approved at 900,000 units, it took several weeks to be re-approved at one million units and another for the new budget to be given the green light by the cabinet this week. The contract to be signed with Shenzhen Scope is still with the government’s legal board, the Council of State, pending approval.
 
Vendors have expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of due process, and the way non-Chinese vendors were initially excluded. The deal was presented as a G2G project, only later for it to revert to a private sector procurement after the vendor had been selected.
 
Elsewhere, Nokia Siemens Networks has said its 3G upgrade to dual-channel HSPA+ for TOT Corporation is on course to be ready by the end of this month.
 
TOT is currently the only standard 2100-MHz operator in Thailand. Despite a two-year head start, it still struggles with in-building and up-country coverage. Speed and latency is nowhere near that of the private-sector competition, which must operate on oddball 850-MHz and 900-MHz bands and face crippling 30% revenue share commitments.
 
In January, the state enterprise awarded a $525 million (16.29 billion baht) network contract to a consortium by Thai conglomerates Samart and Loxley and vendors Huawei and NSN for its 3G expansion. The initial network was built by Ericsson and NSN.
Don Sambandaraksa
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