AIS wins Thai spectrum for LTE that Jasmine failed to pay for
01 July 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray
Thailand’s telecoms regulator has granted a 15-year licence to Advanced Wireless Network (AWN) to run an LTE network on 900MHz spectrum. AWN is a subsidiary of Advanced Info Service (AIS).
The spectrum was originally awarded to Jasmine International’s JAS Mobile Broadband in December 2015, but that company lost its licence earlier this year because it failed to make the first payment for it.
Instead, Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) yesterday fined Jasmine the equivalent of $24 million because in March it failed to make the first $229 million payment of its $2.16 billion licence fee.
NBTC secretary general Takorn Tantasith said that the NBTC will pass the fine on to the state coffers. The NBTC has also confiscated Jas’s $18 million guarantee.
Jasmine and rival operator True both won the NBTC’s spectrum auction in December. True bid the same amount and succeeded in raising the money from bank loans.
AWN, which won the re-auction of the spectrum lost by Jasmine, has succeeded in making its first payment and also provided the NBTC with three bank guarantees for the rest of its winning bid – sums equivalent to those Jasmine had offered unsuccessfully.
According to the Bangkok Post, Somchai Lertsutiwong, CEO of AWS’s parent company AIS, said that it will use half the 10MHz of new spectrum for 4G and half for 2G services.
AIS, the largest mobile operator in Thailand already has 10MHz of spectrum in the band, where it launched 2G services in 1990. Somchai told the Bangkok Post that AIS expects its 4G network coverage to reach 80% of the population by the end of the year.