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CAT board okays FTTX project

CAT Telecom's board has given the nod to the state agency's plan to spend Bt6 billion to deliver broadband-Internet service to homes and offices via a fibre-optic network.

CAT's executive committee approved the Fibre to the X (FTTX) project last week and submitted it to the board, which approved the plan on Wednesday. The company plans for the service to be its flagship business in the future.

The service will entail providing broadband Internet and multimedia content via a fibre-optic network connected directly to homes and other buildings.

A CAT source said the state agency would start developing the project once the plan was approved first by the National Economic and Social Development Board and then the Cabinet.

The service, which will focus on the major provinces, should be up and running next year, targeting 300,000 subscribers in the initial phase. A monthly service fee of Bt1,000 will be charged, the source said.

CAT will ask the Metropolitan Electricity Authority and the Provincial Electricity Authority to allow it to hang its fibre-optic lines on their electricity poles to provide the FTTX service.

But company executives are |worried that neither may allow CAT to do so, but rather will ask CAT to lease their fibre-optic networks instead.

Besides approving the FTTX service, the board asked CAT to continue talks with Hong Kong telecom giant Hutchison Telecom on a possible merger of their Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) 2000 1-x cellular networks.

CAT operates a CDMA network in 51 provinces, while Hutchison-CAT Wireless Multimedia, a joint venture between CAT and Hutchison Telecom, runs a separate CDMA network in 25 provinces. Hutchison-CAT leases its network from BFKT, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hutchison Telecom.

The board also approved CAT's plan to hire a financial adviser to evaluate the BFKT network.

The previous board tasked the management with negotiating with Hutchison Telecom on a possible merger of their CDMA networks, but there has been no progress.

CAT earlier proposed buying the BFKT network for Bt6 billion, but Hutchison Telecom valued it at Bt30 billion.

CAT intends for the CDMA service to be another main business following the decline of its international-call service.

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