Thailand nets $1.4B from 3G auction

The country's government raises 41.6 billion baht from selling 45MHz of 3G spectrum license rights to the three local operators.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Thailand has raised 41.6 billion baht (US$1.4 billion) from its long-awaited auction of 3G mobile licenses, with the three bidding operators said to have paid "only a small premium".

In a report Wednesday, Bangkok Post said the three bidders--Advanced Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication (Dtac) and True Move--managed to secure 3G licenses. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) noted that AIS submitted the highest bid at 14.6 billion baht (US$475 million) for three slots of 5 megahertz (MHz) bandwidth.

The other two operators each submitted the minimum bid of 13.5 billion baht (US$439 million) for the three slots of bandwidth, it added.

The government had put up nine slots of 5MHz bandwidth for auction at a starting price of 4.5 billion baht (US$1.4 million) per slot. Each bidder was limited to a maximum of 15MHz, or three slots of spectrum.

Prasit Sujiravorakul, a telecom analyst at Bualuang Securities, told Bangkok Post: "The fact the auction sailed through and the bidders paid only a small premium to get the licenses should be considered a positive factor."

He did note the share prices of the three telcos fell after the auction, which meant investors were worried about the potential legal challenges against the auction.

The 3G auction in Thailand was delayed since 2010 when the local court decided the previous auction organizer, National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), had not authority to conduct the sale. In contrast, current regulator NBTC, which was formed in October 2011, was accorded the legitimacy.

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