By SIRIVISH TOOMGUM
This agreement between AIS’s 2.1-gigahertz subsidiary Advanced Wireless Network (AWN) and DTAC’s 2.1GHz subsidiary DTAC TriNet includes sharing 2,000 telecom towers, each contributing 1,000, before the end of this year. Most of the shared towers are in the provinces.
The partnership does not specify the leasing terms of the shared infrastructure.
The sharing, which has already begun, will focus on enhancing their third-generation wireless broadband service on the 2.1GHz spectrum, and could be expanded to cover 4G in the future.
Prathet Tankuranun, DTAC chief technology officer, who is also director of DTAC TriNet Co, said the two partners had also committed to continue sharing as many of their upcoming towers as possible.
They will also work together on where they will set up new towers in the future to prevent redundant installation.
The partnership complies with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission’s policy to promote shared telecom infrastructure and equipment.
The infrastructure sharing is aimed at reducing redundant investment on installations, shortening lead times in expanding coverage areas and improving network quality, and reducing environmental problems caused by redundant telecom towers built in the same area.
Weerawat Kiattipongthaworn, AIS senior executive vice president for operations, said the agreement reflected AIS’s commitment to expanding coverage and supporting the growing demand for broadband by Thailand’s widely distributed population.
“Our partnership between AWN and DTAC TriNet focuses on improving service quality for our 3G-2,100-megahertz customers as well as meeting the demands of AIS and DTAC TriNet customers nationwide,” he said.
“By the end of this year we expect AIS and DTAC TriNet to be operating 2,000 shared telecom towers.”
He added that instead of competing to build new towers in the same locations, from now on both would install towers in different strategic locations and share them. He said the key to ensuring successful infrastructure sharing was not about low network-rental fees but about whether the two companies could trust each other in the partnership.
Prathet said this partnership agreement brought a new dimension to the development of the telecom industry to support customers’ fast-growing demand, especially in mobile Internet.
Both partners denied that this agreement was evidence of collusion between the two major telecom operators to stem competition, but insisted it was the result of their collaboration in this area, which has been developed for a while. Late last year, DTAC TriNet Co signed an agreement with the True Telecommunications Growth Infrastructure Fund (TRUEGIF) for the initial lease of more than 100 telecom towers from the fund, in order to expand its 3G wireless broadband coverage.
Weerawat said AIS was also in talks with True Corp on the possibility of a similar collaboration but the talks had yet to be concluded.
When asked if sharing telecom towers would enable AIS and DTAC to gain the upper hand against True in offering 4G service if both can obtain 4G licences, Prathet just said the partnership could help them expand such a service easier.