The day has arrived for 4G 900-MHz auction winner Jasmine to pay the first $220 million (8 billion baht) installment of its licence and provide a bank guarantee for the remainder of its $2.17 billion (75 billion baht) licence fee that it won in a record-breaking 87-hour auction in December.
The company has until 4:30 PM local time to pay the licence or risk a range of sanctions. At the very least they will have their deposit of $17.7 million (644 million baht) forfeited and face blacklisting from any future business with the telecoms and broadcasting regulator.
NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasit has on various occasions said that Jas would also have to be responsible for the costs of a new auction and that it would have its 3BB fixed line ADSL and Mono TV broadcasting licences withdrawn. However, as both 3BB and Mono TV are different juristic entities, it is unclear how Takorn can carry through with that threat.
The regulator has mulled offering the licence to runner-up AIS or holding a new auction with a reserve price near the last bid. If nobody bids then the licence would be suspended for a period of up to six months before it is put forward for auction again, quite possibly under a new regulator and a new frequency act.
Either way it would be difficult for the NBTC to not set a precedent for moral hazard.
On Monday, the Nation quoted an anonymous source on Jasmine’s board saying that Huawei had helped to arranged a Chinese loan for the endeavour.
UPDATE: Asked to comment on the Nation report, Huawei told TelecomAsia in a statement that, "Huawei does not provide any vendor financing for any carrier’s spectrum needs. On the usual capex-based network roll-out, we would consider this or try to provide advice, but not for spectrum".