Alcatel-Lucent in talks on Thai 3G deal

Alcatel-Lucent of France has expressed strong interest in entering a venture with Thai Mobile for the country's first 3G cellular service based on a government-to-government model, a Bangkok Post report, said.

The Bangkok Post report said the telecom equipment supplier said that the Chinese government had already given the green light to Alcatel Shanghai Bell, the flagship of Alcatel-Lucent in the Asia Pacific region, to participate with Thai Mobile.

Alcatel Shanghai Bell is 50% owned by the Chinese government.

'We are in discussions with TOT on a possible venture with Thai Mobile in areas of financing support, potential 3G technologies and a future business model,' Yuan Xin, the chairman of Alcatel Shanghai Bell, was quoted as saying. 'We are very interested and willing to be a strategic partner with Thai Mobile to start up 3G service in the face of technology transition.'

Thai Mobile is a joint venture between Thailand's two state telecom agencies, TOT and CAT Telecom. It is currently the only operator using 1900Mhz, a global 3G cellular technology platform. The now defunct Frequency Allocation Committee set aside the spectrum for Thai Mobile before the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) was established as the industry regulator three years ago.

The spectrum is the most valuable asset of Thai Mobile, which has otherwise failed to establish a presence in the local cellular market. It has only around 70,000 customers out of 42 million mobile users nationwide.