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NEWS UPDATES 9 June 2010

Thailand: 3G battle heats up on threat

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True Move, the country's third-largest mobile operator, has shrugged off threats by CAT Telecom to immediately halt its pilot of 3G services due to the alleged unapproved installation of 3G base stations.

The concession holder wants to negotiate with CAT to settle the dispute, but said it would take the matter to arbitration if resolution is impossible, said True Corp chief executive Suphachai Chearavanont.

CAT has told TrueMove to cease its 3G trial service on the state telecom enterprise's 850 Megahertz spectrum, saying the company had breached its concession agreement.

The state enterprise said the trial must be postponed as all equipment used for the venture must first be transferred to CAT under TrueMove's build-transfer-operate agreement.

CAT warned TrueMove that it would take "further measures" if the operator continued with the trial or marketing its WiFi-plus-3G packages.

Under the concession agreement, CAT granted True Move permission to install 656 base stations - 543 in Bangkok and surrounding provinces, 22 in Chiang Mai, 42 in Chon Buri, 35 in Phuket and 35 in Maha Sarakham. But the state enterprise has accused TrueMove of starting the process to install another 750 base stations which have not currently been approved.

Mr Suphachai said he believed the installation of the additional base stations was within the scope of the agreement.

"I think the dispute is just a misunderstanding," he said. "The additional installation is simply an ongoing issue that need to be clarified."

Shutting down the additional base stations would not benefit consumers. "The more cell sites offered, the greater the benefits to customers," he said.

Mr Supachai also denied that the company was marketing the trial service as TrueMove 3G-plus-WiFi without referring to CAT, which the state agency described as indirect commercial marketing. The packages are a free service offering that was bundled as a part of its 3G service.

True Move is on the verge of starting its own investigation into whether it violated the agreement, he said.


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