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3G opportunities for Thailand

Bangkok, 2 February 2010 - A surge in demand for 3G licensing in the Indochina region has brought accelerated expansion in investment from Internet gateway providers.

This new market potential gives Thailand the opportunity to become a connecting hub in Asean, the Bangkok Post reported.

New 3G licensing in Cambodia and Laos is driving demand for Internet bandwidth in the region and opening opportunities for international gateway business in Thailand.

"Indochina is a growing market because it has a limited international network, some of which is controlled by governments. For example, while Vietnam has 3G, it mostly connects through Hong Kong and still uses Thailand as a backup network. The Indochina market brings better bandwidth at the same price," said Wittaya Laksawut, assistant vice president at JasTel Network.

This year, the company will expand its international gateway and cable stations to neighbouring countries in order to respond to the market.

Fee reduction will allow expansion

The National Telecommunication Commission of Thailand (NTC) is considering a reduction in cost of type 3 licence fees. This will allow service providers to invest more and expand their networks ahead of liberalisation in 2015.

If all local network providers have expanded nationwide when the market fully opens, then foreign companies could have to find partners in Thailand in order to expand.

Landing rights opened up

Last November, True Internet Gateway (TIG) became the first private operator to be granted a licence for submarine cable landing rights by the NTC. The licence will allow TIG to connect with Laos, Burma and Cambodia.

Previously, only state-owned enterprises had landing rights in Thailand. The new licence will allow TIG to access submarine bandwidth capacity and become the only gateway operator able to provide both terrestrial and submarine connectivity.

This will allow the company to provide international data services to new markets while also creating the potential to market content services.

Dr Anotai Rattanakul, general manger of TIG, commented that this year the company plans to invest US$20 million both in bandwidth upgrade and submarine expansion. "Expanding into Indochina and securing foreign telecom carriers as customers will bring revenue from external customers to 25 per cent of overall, compared with 15 per cent last year," he added.

TIG will now be able to provide considerable extra bandwidth at little additional cost. In addition to benefiting home and enterprise users, this could also act as a backbone to support the high growth in bandwidth consumption that the advent of new technologies such as 3G and WiMAX will bring.

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