Thai regulator revises 3G auction terms

National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission plans to change spectrum cap to 15 megahertz and increase reserve price to US$191 million per 5MHz slot for October's auction.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor on

Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) plans to decrease the spectrum cap and increase the reserve price for the upcoming 3G auction in October.

A TelecomAsia report Monday cited NBTC's deputy chairman Setthapong Malisuwan saying the board will likely drop the spectrum cap from 20 megahertz (MHz) to 15MHz. It did not note the reason for the decrease.

There were worries earlier that the spectrum cap might result in a duopoly given that only 45MHz of spectrum will be up for grabs. It was speculated that Advanced Info Service (AIS) and Total Access Communication (DTAC) would end up owning 20MHz each while True Move will be left with 5MHz. However, an analyst noted the two larger players have publicly said they will be happy with 15MHz each.

Besides the revision in spectrum cap, Setthapong said the regulator could raise the reserve price from 4.5 billion Thai baht (US$143 million) to 6 billion baht (US$191 million) for each 5MHz slot.

However, the deputy chaiman said he was personally against increasing the reserve price because the higher costs will be passed on to consumers.

The report noted the proposals will be open to comments submitted through the Web site for only seven days, in contrast to the usual 30 days. This is so that the revisions can be made in time for the telecommunications commissioners' meeting on Aug. 21 and the final combined board meeting on Aug. 22.

The country's auction of 3G bandwidth had stalled in 2010 due to the previous organizer's--National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)--lack of authority. However, analysts were more optimistic about the upcoming auction due to the legitimacy of NBTC and demand for 3G services.

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