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3G/HSPA

AIS Unveils 3G Plans

11:45 AM -- Thai carrier Advanced Info Service plc (AIS) appears confident it'll soon be able to get its hands on a 3G license, even though Thailand's spectrum auction plans seem to be in constant flux.

The original December deadline has now been pushed into the first quarter of 2010, as there are still concerns that the country's National Telecommunication Commission has the authority to issue licenses and award spectrum. (See AsiaWatch: Indian Telcos Look to Africa and Thailand Set for Broadband Surge .)

AIS, which offers fixed broadband as well as mobile services, is being optimistic, though. As part of its latest quarterly earnings presentation, the operator noted it intends to splash out 50 billion Thailand Baht (US$1.5 billion) during the next three years on its 2G and 3G infrastructure, with 90 percent of that budget ($1.35 billion) allocated to 3G rollout. Previously, though, the company had estimated it would invest THB75 billion ($2.25 billion) during its initial 3G rollout period.

If AIS does manage to get its hands on a 3G license, one likely beneficiary should be Nokia Networks , which has supplied network infrastructure, subscriber management, and service delivery platform technology to AIS during the past few years, leaving it well placed to land a healthy slice of AIS's 3G contract awards. (See NSN Wins SDP Deal.)

The carrier, which had more than 28 million subscribers at the end of September, reported third-quarter revenues of THB25 billion ($750 million) and net profit of THB4.2 billion ($126 million), down 9.3 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively, compared with a year ago.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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