TrueMove offers 3G throughout Chonburi as Thailand continues to block licenses

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Long-suffering mobile Internet users in Chonburi will finally get a chance to experience high-speed third-generation data services via TrueMove under a test program that allows the telecom company to offer 3G over its existing 2G network.

Even as the rest of Asia is implementing fourth-generation mobile data networks, Thailand still hasn’t managed to build a true 3G network. Fed up with the bureaucratic delays, lawsuits and corporate infighting that have stalled the sale of 3G licenses on the 2.1 gigahertz frequency, True and other companies have begun pushing high-speed data over frequencies they already own.

TrueMove is testing a program that allows the telecom company to offer 3G over its existing 2G network. TrueMove is testing a program that allows the telecom company to offer 3G over its existing 2G network.

TrueMove, a unit of True Corp., has won rights to test high-speed packet access, or HSPA, services over its current 850 megahertz 2G frequency. Thailand’s third-largest phone operator already has deployed the service in Bangkok and Pattaya, but on Nov. 17 announced it would expand to 600 access points that cover all of Chonburi.

Piroon Paireepairit, director of multimedia and marketing, said TrueMove will additionally expand its True WiFi Internet hotspot network to 18,000 points throughout Thailand.

In Chonburi, new hotspots will be added at Burapha University, Central Chonburi, Chalermthai, Forum, and Laemthong department stores, Sriracha’s Robinsons and Assumption School and Kasetsart University. In all, there will be 390 hotspots in the province.

True has seen the strongest subscriber growth of any of Thailand’s mobile operators due to both the size of its 3G network and because it was the first of the telcos to officially offer Apple’s iPhone.

Still, mobile market growth in Thailand continues to lag the rest of Southeast Asia due to the country’s inability to offer the latest mobile data technology.

In September, the Central Administrative Court issued another injunction against a planned 3G license auction to True and other private operators after government-owned CAT Telecom and TOT filed separate petitions challenging the authority of the National Telecommunications Commission to allocate 2.1 ghz spectrum use for 3G services.

The utilities argue they will lose massive revenues should other private firms acquire 3G licenses. Yet neither company has been able to upgrade their own networks to widely offer such services.

As an end run around CAT’s protectionism, True is now in talks to buy the mobile phone operations of Hong Kong’s Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd., which operates a 3G service over CAT’s own network. The company is also considering a deal to simply rent CAT’s network for five years.