Thailand releases final draft auction rules

Don Sambandaraksa
Thailand’s telecom regulator has released what is expected to be the final draft of the 3G bidding documents for public consultation in preparation for an auction in October this year.
No major surprises emerged and, as was earlier announced, the 45 MHz of paired spectrum on 2.1 GHz is to be divided into nine 5-MHz slots and auctioned by a simultaneous ascending bid methodology. Each of the bidders will state how many slots they wish, and the price for every slot will rise until slots are relinquished and demand equals supply.
The reserve price has been set at $142 million (4.5 billion Baht) per 5-MHz slot. A refundable deposit of 42 million dollars (1.35 billion Baht) is required to participate in the auction. Fees will be payable 50% on completion of the auction and 25% and 25% at the end of years two and three.
The 15-year license will be a category 3 license, which allows for ownership of backhaul networks.
A licensee with 10 MHz or more will face rollout requirements of 50% population coverage in two years and 80% in four years. Services must be offered in every province, nationwide. A licensee with 5 MHz will see lower rollout requirements of 20% and 30% respectively.
A minimum data rate of 345 kbps must be offered. Also, 10% of capacity must be reserved for MVNOs.
As predicted, the draft requires that all bidders sign up for the controversial foreign dominance notification prior to participating in the auction.
The papers have been put out for comment for 30 days starting on 19 July before the sub-committee reconvenes to take those comments into account.
One outstanding issue is how to measure coverage, but one of the sub-committee members said that when the issue was raised with the NBTC board, it was decided that the methodology would be worked out later.
Meanwhile, the regulator is still trying to find a company to conduct the auction, and has put out a revised tender with a budget of $475,000 (15 million Baht). A previous tender was scrapped after the winning bidder in the technical round came in much higher than budgeted, while the second bid was from the organizer of the aborted 2010 auction which was ruled improper, hence the new tender.


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