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Ending disputes over telecom towers could earn CAT Bt18 bn

Jan 13. 2016
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By USANEE MONGKOLPORN
THE NATION

CAT TELECOM expects to gain around Bt18 billion if it can settle disputes over the ownership of telecommunication towers under its concessions with Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Corp, said Colonel Sanphachai Huvanandana, acting CAT president.
One way to end the dispute with DTAC is to set up a joint venture to manage the towers, which would see DTAC paying around Bt10 billion to hold shares in the JV and for compensation to CAT over this and other disputes under the concession.
There are 8,000 telecom towers under DTAC’s concession. 
CAT will end the dispute with True over 7,000 towers by selling the towers under the concession to True’s Digital Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund. CAT expects to gain around Bt8 billion from this transaction.
The CAT board will meet on January 25 to consider the plan to set up a joint venture with DTAC. However, such a plan would amount to an amendment to the concession agreement. Therefore, CAT would have submit the plan for Cabinet approval.
Meanwhile, the State Enterprise Policy Commission has urged CAT to revise its business-turnaround plan. The original plan indicated that CAT would show a profit of only Bt86 million this year out of total revenue of Bt52.8 billion. 
The low profit is a consequence of True group’s plan to lease only 6 per cent of CAT’s 850-megahertz network capacity this year to offer third-generation service, down from 18 per cent capacity the group leased last year. Therefore the revenue from this lease will fall by one-third from Bt2.8 billion last year. This will affect CAT’s revenue, most of which is from wireless broadband.
Under the new turnaround plan, CAT will post a profit of Bt480 million, as it is seeking new revenue sources from other existing services such as data communication. 
CAT posted revenue of Bt53.5 billion and profit of Bt3.4 billion last year. The main wireless-broadband business contributed revenue of Bt27 billion and Bt3.8 billion in profit.
 

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