Thai regulator NBTC (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission) has dropped plans to decommission the country’s 2G networks after a change of heart from the major operators.
AIS, True Move and dtac had previously called for permission to shutter their 2G networks in order to free up the spectrum for other services. They were granted this in January 2019 and were expected to shut down their 2G networks by 31st October.
However, The Bangkok Post reports that the operators are unwilling to inconvenience 2G subscribers at this stage. NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said: “Operators have agreed to continue providing 2G service for remaining users, even though they earlier urged the NBTC to enact the resolution.”
Speaking to the paper, Kasikorn Securities senior analyst Pisut Ngamvijitwong expressed surprise at the operators’ decision given that the monthly ARPU for 2G services in Thailand is around THB100 ($3.29).
AIS delivers 2G over the 900MHz band, with dtac and True Move both using 1800MHz spectrum. While refarming this spectrum would provide the operators with more efficient capacity and allow them to prepare effectively for 5G broadband, they are all under less pressure to free up the spectrum after acquiring two 10MHz blocks of 700MHz spectrum in June’s auction.