Thailand's Lack of 3G May Persist Due to Politics
Thailand is one of Singaporeans' favorite holiday destinations, and each time you go, you'd be surprised by something new. One of those surprises however, is that your smartphone is as good as useless when in Thailand, and it's becoming old really fast.
According to Businessweek, Thailand has been struggling to sell off licenses for third-generation wireless services for the past six years, since 2005.
They also quoted Wichian Mektrakarn, CEO (he took over from current Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra) of Advanced Info Service Pcl (AIS), Thailand's biggest mobile-phone network operator, who said that further efforts to bring 3G into Thailand could be derailed by politics.
While there are limited 3G services that use upgraded 2G networks currently offered by the biggest operators, they are reluctant to invest further into full 3G until licenses and 3G rules have been released.
Businessweek also quoted Wichian saying that he believes there is "some kind of conspiracy, or some kind of movement to try to stop or delay 3G."
And he could be right because there is very big money involved (bidding starts at US$410 million), and there are parties concerned about where the money will be coming from, and where it will end up.
“Transparency is poor, and vested interests, that could be hurt by the licensing, remain,” said David Beller, a Bangkok- based analyst for Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, who has a “buy” rating on Advanced Info. “There will be a number of hurdles to pass.
Looks like frequent travellers to Thailand may not be able to get their 3G fix while in the Land of Smiles any time soon. But then again, there's always free Wi-Fi from the nearest iBerry or Starbucks (most cafes have Wi-Fi to alleviate this thorny problem).