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Impasse could doom AIS 2G users to service cut-off

Mar 11. 2016
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AROUND 400,000 users of Advanced Info Service’s second-generation cellular service are likely to find themselves disconnected after AIS and True Corp failed to reach an agreement at a last-gasp meeting yesterday.

The two companies and TOT were called for the meeting by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) after they could not find a solution at a meeting on Wednesday.

Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, said AIS and the commission had to hurry to inform all of the company’s 2G users of the need to move to another operator. The telecom committee of the NBTC will consider the issue today.

AIS’s 2G service on the 900-megahertz spectrum is being cut off because that band is being reallocated to two licence winners, one of which – True Move H Universal Communication (TUC) of True Corp – is being awarded its licence next week.

AIS has 8.4 million 2G users, of whom 8 million are on its affiliate AWN’s network.

AIS said the 2G users with dual-band (900 MHz and 1,800MHz) handsets could still roam with Total Access Communication (DTAC), while 400,000 users will be disconnected.

Lars Norling, chief executive of DTAC, said in a statement that the agreement on 2G roaming with AIS had been reached and the contract signed to allow AIS’s 2G customers to roam on DTAC’s network without switching SIM cards. The network testing is finished and the service will be ready by today, as AIS will terminate its 900MHz service after TUC has paid the licence fee.

AIS told the NBTC that its board yesterday insisted on roaming on 5MHz of the 900MHz band of Jas Mobile Broadband (JASMBB), the other winner of a licence to that spectrum at an auction last year.

AIS claimed it was already operating its 2G service on the band and could not move to another adjacent band.

During the meeting, the NBTC proposed to AIS that it use TUC’s 900MHz band instead.

The NBTC will ask TUC to pick up the licence on March 18. This should give AIS more time to migrate its users to the 900MHz band of TUC.

Under this model, AIS has to pay TUC for spectrum use. If both agree, the NBTC will apply Article 63 of the Frequency Allocation Law for the plan to save these 2G users by ordering TOT to allow TUC to use the 2G network and roam with AIS.

TOT holds the 2G-900MHz spectrum transferred from AIS when AIS’s concession expired last September.

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