Through the successful implementation of its various projects, CAT Telecom is striving to lead the way in providing wireless multimedia services in one of Southeast Asia’s most economically dynamic nations.
With a GDP worth $602 billion, Thailand is the second largest economy in Southeast Asia. Having enjoyed the world’s highest growth rate from 1985 to 1996, during which time it averaged 12.4 percent growth annually, the country is today considered to be a newly industrialised, emerging economy.
The world’s 51st-largest country in terms of total area, Thailand boasts an advanced telecommunications industry that operates through an extensive network of telephone lines covering the 513,000 square kilometres of the Indochina nation. In recent years, mobile cellular telephone ownership has grown at a much faster rate than landline ownership.
Partly as a result of the mobile communications price war that erupted in 2004, which led to prices falling as low as 0.25 Baht per minute, there are now approximately five times as many mobile cellular telephones than landlines in use. Based on the most recent data available, more than half of the Thai population owns a mobile telephone, with more numbers allocated than number of population.
Established in August 2003, under the name of the Communications Authority of Thailand, CAT Telecom exists to provide all categories and forms of telecommunication services, as well as other related solutions, to customers domestically and internationally.
In recent times CAT Telecom has focused on transforming itself in order to effectively support all services and respond quicker to changing customer needs. While every step of development has been carried out simultaneously, including network development, the company has also launched the Asia-America Gateway (AAG) project. A modern international submarine cable system with a capacity of 1.92 terabits per second, this project has greatly helped advance the potential of the company’s own CAT Internet Gateway.
Much of the company’s domestic success derives from its provision of internet services. As a result of its links with the previous government of Thailand and its advanced infrastructure, CAT Telecom holds a competitive advantage over its rivals. This advantage is further buoyed by its unique access to the country’s fibre optic network.
Partnerships with key local and international partners have also proved invaluable for the company. One such relationship exists between CAT Telecom and Hong Kong-based company PCCW Limited. In providing PCCW with access to the Thai telecoms market, CAT Telecom in turn receives access to the lucrative Hong Kong market where PCCW holds interests in telecommunications, media, IT solutions, property development and investment.
Not only has the company worked to improve its existing services in line with the requirements of its customers, and the rapid changes in communications technology, but it has also strived to create new solutions that bring added value to the voice, broadband and wireless products that its users already enjoy.
In the company’s 2010 annual report, great detail was given regarding a series of projects that will help drive business in the months and years to follow. At the top of its agenda was the building of a digital trunked radio system (DTRS) mobile network. This will replace the old analog network and further extend services to areas such as Bangkok’s industrial zones, the eastern seaboard of the country and its central region. At the same time CAT Telecom is increasing the capacity of its telephone exchange system to support a growing subscriber base.
In the last two years the company has commenced work on phase two of its Universal Service Obligation (USO) project. Phase one saw it install both fixed line and public telephones in some of the more remote villages found in Thailand to low income households, schools and health stations, as well as providing phone cards to people with disabilities.
To implement the second stage of this project CAT Telecom will establish a combined telephone and internet service within the aforementioned communities. Furthermore, it will promote and support technology development in terms of equipment and telecommunications services to facilitate the telecommunication requirements of children, the elderly and the disabled in society.
Broadband internet is the central theme behind the majority of the company’s on-going and forthcoming investment plans, particular its CAT-TeleHouse plan, fibre to the x (FTTx) project, Gulf of Thailand submarine cable network project and its IP core network development programme. The CAT-TeleHouse service is designed to support the growth of ICT business in those telecommunication organisations that own massive amounts of data and wish to have access to a reliable data centre system. Said telecommunication or service providers also want to have the ability to link their main network to either national of international gateways.
The FTTx project is a large scale telecommunication network development being undertaken by Thailand. For its part, CAT Telecom will build the Lastmile network, an optical fibre network linking providers and clients, giving them access to ultra-high speed broadband internet and other new applications that will be developed in the years ahead. The target areas for this project include Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi and Phathum Thani.
The Gulf of Thailand submarine cable network project meanwhile aims to increase the number of connecting business groups across the Thai Gulf region, providing them with all forms of telecommunication services, from multimedia to broadband internet services. Utilising DWDM technology, the submarine cable will link Chonburi and Songkhla.
Lastly, CAT Telecom’s IP core network development project has been established to improve the efficiency of the network in order to support high-speed data transmissions, as well as expanding the network to cover more zones. The 100 Gbps, IP core network project, the largest of its kind in Thailand, will provide increased benefits for residential clients as well as organisations, educational institutes and multinational companies.
Playing a crucial role in the development of Thailand’s telecommunications sector, CAT Telecom is also a provider of 3G mobile services. The company provides a 3G HSPA service, enabling its customers to experience speeds of up to 42 Mbps. This service represents a new milestone for high speed internet that Thai customers can now experience through their mobile phones.
Written by Will Daynes, research by David Brogan