Cisco, Huawei and Nokia-Siemens Networks have each supplied kit to AIS, Thailand’s largest telco, for trial LTE networks in Bangkok and a remote district in the north east of the county.
The first network is a 2.3GHz TD-LTE network in central Bangkok with 20 base stations, and the initial test phase will run until May this year. The second is an FD-LTE 1800MHz network in the remote province of Maha Sarakham. It uses GSM 1800 spectrum owned by state telco CAT Telecom under concession to DPC, a telco now fully owned by AIS but forgotten in recent years as AIS has concentrated on its 900MHz network. The network has eight base stations and the test phase runs through March.
AIS’s 2.3GHz network is billed by the chairman of regulator NBTC as a broadband wireless access initiative, while the 1800MHz network is regarded as a 4G mobile phone network. The regulator joined a host of dignitaries in launching the network as part of the Smart Thailand initiative.
AIS chief Wichian Mektrakarn said there is much to learn about the rollout of LTE in terms of speed, reliability, mobile usage and handover for continuous coverage. He said that AIS will roll out 3G for wide area coverage and 4G in areas that need in-depth functionality such as universities, hospitals and research centers.
The DPC concession itself ends in September 2013, and many view this move as AIS getting a foot in the door to maintain rights to the valuable 1800MHz spectrum once the concession does end.