A model train on display at Ayutthaya’s Chiang Rak Noi station, a stop on the planned Thai-Chinese railway. CHANAT KATANYU
The national telecom regulator has finally allocated a pair of five-megahertz blocks on the 800MHz spectrum to provide an internal wireless communication network system for the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway project.
The move meets a Transport Ministry request from early 2016 for the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to allocate bandwidth on the 800-900MHz spectrum for a wireless railway communication system.
Col Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the NBTC’s telecom committee, said the pair uses 930-935MHz to send information from the mobile station to the base station (uplink) and 885-890MHz for the downlink.
This spectrum is part of the Total Access Communication (DTAC) mobile concession under CAT Telecom. After the concession expires in September next year, the railway project will be able to use it, officials said.
The wireless communication system will comply with the Global System for Mobile Communications-Railway (GSM-R), the international standard, Col Settapong said.
The frequency allocated by the NBTC is based on Chinese railway technology, officials said.
The agency has also allocated the 380-400MHz spectrum to the Transport Ministry for use in the trunked radio system of the subway operating system. A trunk system uses a number of frequencies and shares them among various “talk groups”.
The regulator last year hired Chula Unisearch, the academic service centre of Chulalongkorn University, to study the potential economic and social impact of the 800MHz spectrum.
Meanwhile, the telecom committee yesterday approved the termination of the Samart I-Mobile (SIM) mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service, Col Settapong said. The SET-listed company is a subsidiary of Samart Corporation.
SIM sought permission in April to shut down operations on state-owned TOT’s 2100MHz network and return some 4 million mobile phone numbers to the regulator.
An industry source said SIM faced fierce competition from three major key players that together control 99% of the domestic mobile-service market.
SIM also lost its edge as an affordable smartphone provider amid pressure from phone distributors, especially Chinese brands like Oppo and Vivo that offer a range of devices at attractive prices.
The Thai company’s 10,000 subscribers may be reassured by provisions that state they must not be negatively affected by the shutdown. Samart I-Mobile and TOT must provide them with remedial measures.
Previously, TOT executives had gone on record to say that SIM owed 100 million baht to the state telecom, including the cost of renting the network and other fees.
SIM suggested in April that TOT take control of the company’s subscribers, who will be transferred to TOT’s 3G packages.
The NBTC granted SIM an MVNO licence in 2010. An MVNO is an entity that provides mobile service but lacks its own mobile network.