Thailand's Total Access seeks to share networks to cut costs

BANGKOK Thu Feb 13, 2014 7:04am EST

BANGKOK Feb 13 (Reuters) - Thailand's second-largest mobile operator Total Access Communication Pcl (TAC) is in talks to share telecoms networks with its rivals in an attempt to save costs.

Competition in the Thai mobile sector has intensified as operators compete to build high-speed 3G networks to boost fast-growing data services, as growth in voice revenues slows in a saturated market.

TAC, controlled by Norway's Telenor, has held talks with Advanced Info Service - the biggest operator by revenue and market share - and No. 3 True Corp about network sharing, but no deal has been reached, Chief Executive Officer Jon Eddy Adbullah told reporters.

He gave no timeframe on when the negotiations would be concluded.

True, controlled by Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, launched a $1.8 billion True Telecommunication Growth Infrastructure Fund in December.

Analysts have speculated that, as a part of any deal with True, TAC is likely to rent networks from the infrastructure fund, whose assets include 6,000 telecoms towers and fibre optic networks for high-speed Internet.

TAC, which aims to invest 13 billion baht ($399 million) in 2014 to expand its network on top of the 14.4 billion baht spent last year, plans to launch the super high speed 4G mobile services on its 2.1 GHz spectrum later this year, Abdullah said.

($1 = 32.5850 Thai baht) (Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Pravin Char)