Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has instructed the three local telcos to lower the prices of their mobile voice and data services before they can even begin offer 3G services.
The Bangkok Post reported Tuesday the operators, which completed their successful bidding for the 3G spectrum licenses last Tuesday, will have to decrease prices for mobile services by 15 percent to 20 percent. NBTC Chairman Thares Punsri said they will also have to ensure service quality and consumer protection plans are in place.
The telecom regulator said the 20 percent price cut on the current 899 baht a month for 3G postpaid services would amount to customer savings of 73.1 billion baht a year. Over the 15-year period of the 3G license, the savings would come up to more than a trillion baht, it added.
A 15 percent price cut would bring savings of 54.8 billion baht a year, or 822.8 billion baht over the 15-year licence period.
These price cuts are made feasible because the introduction of 3G would lead to lower operating costs and increased competition for the three telcos, said NBTC Secretary-General Thakorn Tantasit in the report.
The NBTC's "statement of intention" was meant to help calm public fears over whether the 3G spectrum auction unfairly rewarded private operators at the expense of consumers and the state.
Advanced Info Service (AIS) bidded the highest for 15 megahertz of bandwidth at 14.6 billion baht, while the other two operators Total Access Communication (Dtac) and True Move submitted the minimum bid of 13.5 billion baht for the same amount of bandwidth.
The telecom regulator acknowledged the auction generated lower-than-expected returns and the bidding structure led to suspicions of collusion among the operators. It said it would set up a sub-committee to look into the bidders' actions before granting the licenses, and this investigation should take no more than 15 days.