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20/07/2011 - Is 3G war about to break-out in Phuket, Thailand?

20/07/2011 - Is 3G war about to break-out in Phuket, Thailand?

Phuket is gearing up for a battle between 3rd generation (3G) network providers.

Thai telecoms company Advanced Information Systems (AIS) has announced it will start rolling out its new 3G wireless service at the end of July.

The AIS 3G packages will be available to all One-to-Call pay-as-you-go subscribers and AIS prepaid contract holders. However, exact details of the new service and its pricing are yet to be revealed.

Already, AIS have pledged to provide network coverage to over ninety five per cent of Phuket Island. And the two companies have agreed a co-network installation project. Which means that TOT will share network technology and hardware, including transmission stations, with AIS.

The two companies are also discussing the construction of an additional 2,000 transmitter stations throughout Thailand.

However, it is possible that negotiations between the two providers could breakdown, as TOT prepare to sign a 3G roaming agreement with Thailand’s other state run telecoms operator, CAT Telecom.

The new roaming agreement would enable TOT and CAT Telecom to provide 3G services in direct competition with AIS.

CAT Telecom has also signed an agreement with True Corporation, Thailand largest Internet Services Provider. The contract allows True Corporation’s subsidiaries, Real Move and TrueMove H, to use eighty per cent of CAT Telecom’s 3G network capacity.

TrueMove has been providing 3G network coverage in Phuket since March 2009. But as the technology is based on the limited analogue 850 Mhz frequency, many users experience slow speeds and poor network coverage.

True Corporation is now preparing to upgrade its existing hardware to use the newer High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) technology. This will give users download speeds of up to 80Mbps and more reliable coverage.

If that isn’t enough competition for AIS, Samart Group has announced it too will be rolling out a new 3G service in Phuket. Smart Telecom, one of Samart’s subsidiaries, has already allocated a 500 million baht (US$16.7 million) budget for the launch of its new service. The company also has an agreement with TOT to use its existing transmission towers.

Let’s just hope that all this competition leads to better services and cheaper prices in Phuket.

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