Thai AIS to invest $1.4 bln on 3G in three years
BANGKOK, July 22
BANGKOK, July 22 (Reuters) - Advanced Info Service ADVA.BK (AIS), Thailand's top mobile phone operator, said it planned to spend 45 billion baht ($1.4 billion) over three years to install a third-generation network after it wins a licence.
"We plan to spend about 15 billion baht a year over the next three years after we get a licence," AIS Chief Executive Wichian Mektrakarn told Reuters late on Wednesday.
Investment in the first two years would help cover 50 percent of the country and it should take about four years for 80 percent coverage, Wichian said.
AIS, 21.4 percent owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (STEL.SI), has sufficient funds to join an auction of 3G licences to be held by the regulator, he said, adding his firm would consider several options to raise more funds for investment in the network after it receives its licence.
The National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) has set a reserve price of 12.8 billion baht for 3G licences on the new 2.1 GHz spectrum.
The market leader agreed with the government's proposal to convert existing second-generation mobile concessions into licences and was willing to cooperate on how to do that, Wichian said. [ID:nSGE66J0AS]
The telecoms regulator plans to hold an auction in the third week of September for 3.9 generation mobile services, bypassing 3G services, which have never got off the ground in Thailand because auctions for licences have been repeatedly delayed for at least five years. ($1=32.28 Baht) (Reporting by Manunphattr Dhanananphorn; Writing by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Alan Raybould)