TOT Allowed to Extend 3G Network Nationwide

With uncertainty prevailing over the future of 3G radio spectrum the Thai government has acted to press forward. The Nation reports that yesterday the Telecommunications Organization of Thailand (TOT) has been granted permission to extend their current 3G service to cover the entire country. TOT said a search for financing for the build-out will begin immediately.

To accentuate the positive, let’s applaud this quick recovery from the postponed 3G auctions. At least 3G service can be expect to become available over the next 12 months or so, depending upon the pace of the build-out. With no private (AIS, DTAC and True Move) 3G networks being built, sufficient resources should be available to complete the TOT build-out quickly. Equipment vendors will be focused on TOT alone rather than on several distinct opportunities.

Engineers, technicians and construction teams will also be focused. In
short, a better, more widely available 3G network is now conceivable. That has been a fading hope since the Supreme Administrative Court postponed the NTC auction last week. Bangkok Beach Telecom welcomes this as a better outcome for Thailand.

On the down side, however, TOT retains a role for itself in 3G. They likely will extend their current role as concessionaire far into the future. Their track record of service quality and cost-effectiveness is not wonderful. Was it not bad enough that they had veto power over base station backhaul and inter-connect?

Worse, power is again and further concentrated in the hands of a small number of folks. That’s liable to lead to delays and cost inefficiencies. The 3G auctions and the constitution that enabled them, were intended to distribute that power to provide better service at more affordable rates. More’s the pity for Thailand.