NBTC cuts 3G auction spectrum cap

Don Sambandaraksa
telecomasia.net
Thailand’s regulator has today lowered the spectrum cap for the upcoming 17 October auction from 20 MHz down to 15 MHz.
 
But the reserve price for the auction remains unchanged at 143 million (4.5 billion baht) per 5-MHz slot.
 
The move, which was widely anticipated, was announced by Setthapong Malisuwan, deputy chairman of the national telecommunications and broadcasting commission in charge of telecommunications following a meeting on 15 August.
 
A total of 45 MHz of 2.1-GHz spectrum is up for auction.
 
Colonel Setthapong said that the move was to prevent hoarding of spectrum, and was confident that there would still be competition and an active auction.
 
He said that he hopes that there will be five bidders in the auction and even if there are just the three incumbent operators bidding, he was confident of active bidding competition as the highest bidder gets to choose which part of the spectrum to get first.
 
Given the passage of the foreign dominance notification that puts severe restrictions on foreign allied firms operating in Thailand, it is unclear who the other two may be. A year ago there was speculation that TOT 3G’s MVNO partners Samart or Loxley might go for a 3G licence of their own but this seems highly unlikely at this point.
 
Many have criticised the revision of the spectrum cap as simply a move to prevent a 20-20-5 MHz, scenario given the relative financial strengths of the three incumbent telcos.
 
AIS CEO Vichien Mektrakarn welcomed the move and said that he expects that he will draw lots with his two competitors to determine which part of spectrum AIS gets if the bids come out the same.
 
Ericsson Thailand’s head of strategy and communications Bunyati Kirdniyom also lauded the move, saying that 15 MHz was a common spectrum cap and would ensure that all three operators have technical parity going forward.
 

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