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[January 17, 2013]
AIS promises 50 pct 3G coverage by March [Bangkok Post, Thailand]
(Bangkok Post (Thailand) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 18--Advanced Info Service (AIS) has set an ambitious goal of accelerating its new third-generation (3G) network roll-out and covering half the population in the first quarter under a budget of 13 billion baht.
The country's biggest mobile operator is also determined to expand 3G service on the 2.1-gigahertz frequency (under a new licensing agreement) to cover 80% of the population within a year.
"We plan a commercial launch of our 3G 2.1-GHz service under the AIS 3G brand by May, with at least 3,000 base stations in Bangkok and 18 major provinces," said chief executive Wichian Mektrakarn.
Target customers are the existing 4 million using AIS's 3G 900-megahertz service, he said.
The company has 39 million subscribers in all. It wants to make 3G service affordable to the mass market by offering low-cost devices bundled with a variety of tariff plans.
The strategy is aimed at persuading AIS's existing 30 million 2G users to switch to the 3G network.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has stipulated 3G licence holders must expand their network coverage to 50% of the total population in the first two years after receiving a licence, rising to 80% within four years.
The 3G 2.1-GHz system will provide better data service quality with a 300% capacity enhancement, and voice service could also be improved by 30%, said Mr Wichian.
Chief marketing officer Somchai Lertsutiwong said AIS will introduce a slew of 3G application services next month.
They include My Cloud, an app letting users store personal digital assets and information, as well as Calling Post, Movie Store, Mpay MasterCard and contactless payment for mass transit.
Somprasong Boonyachai, vice-chairman of the board of directors, said 2013 will mark a significant period of progress for Thailand's ICT infrastructure development including 4G and digital TV systems.
He said 3G will enable opportunities for flourishing portable devices, mobile apps and peripheral accessories.
Thailand's mobile market is expected to reach 214 billion baht this year, up from 200 billion last year, with 60% of the total stemming from data spending.
The country's mobile device market is predicted to increase by 15% to 52 billion baht this year, said Mr Somprasong.
___ (c)2013 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand) Visit the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand) at www.bangkokpost.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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