May 26, 2017 / 9:36 AM / 4 months ago

Thai Total Access, state firm tie up for new 4G wireless services

BANGKOK, May 26 (Reuters) - Thailand’s Total Access Communication Pcl and state firm TOT Pcl will partner to launch the country’s first wireless broadband 4G LTE-TDD service on the 2300 MHz spectrum, the telecom companies said on Friday.

Total Access, the country’s third-largest mobile operator, will install about 20,000 telecom towers for TOT to lease for eight years.

TOT will then allow Total Access, controlled by Norway’s Telenor, to use 60 percent of the network for a fixed payment of 4.51 billion baht ($132.45 million) per year, TOT President Montchai Noosong said in a joint statement.

The 4G LTE-TDD 2300 MHz networks will help maximize the use of frequency resources with the advantage of Time Division Duplex (TDD) technology, he said.

The deal, which will help boost Thailand’s digital infrastructure, is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of this year, Total Access Chief Executive Officer Lars Norling said in a joint statement.

This partnership is expected to provide access to broadband internet coverage for at least 80 percent of the Thais living in remote areas, he added.

Total Access is also keen to bid for the nation’s 1800 MHz spectrum, Norling said, without elaborating. The company competes with market leader Advanced Info Service Pcl and second-ranked True Corp.

Fitch Ratings said the deal with TOT will strengthen Total Access’s market position as its business has so far been constrained by its relatively weak spectrum portfolio.

“However, additional contract payments, the potentially high acquisition cost for the upcoming 1.8GHz spectrum auction in 2018, and the likely elevated network capex could put more pressure on DTAC’s earnings, cash flow and financial leverage in the medium term,” Fitch said.

$1 = 34.05 baht Reporting by Wirat Buranakanokthanasan and Chayut Setboonsarng; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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