All of Thailand’s three private sector telcos have collected their long-awaited 2.1 GHz 3G licences from the regulator. AIS has requested 10 million new 3G numbers, while Dtac and TrueMove each have asked for 5 million.
The licences were issued providing the telcos agree to four conditions. Prices must be 15% lower, coverage must be 80% in four years; data speeds must be at a minimum of 354 kbps and pre-paid credit must not expire.
The price reduction clause was put in at the last moment, after the auction had been concluded, but by this stage none of the telcos were complaining as long as the licences were issued.
The issue of pre-paid credit expiry has been an ongoing issue of contention with the previous regulator outlawing it back in 2006. Days earlier, TrueMove lost an appeal at the administrative court for an injunction against the regulator fining it $3,200 (100,000 baht) a day for refusing to halt pre-paid credit expiry while True was appealing against the fine in the courts.
The judges ruled that even if the regulator lost the ongoing case with True, the damages would be easy to calculate and the money could be returned, hence there was no need for an injunction.
Meanwhile, AIS has announced a $65 million (2 billion baht) investment plan with a launch of its 2.1-GHz 3G service in the first half of 2013. Of this amount, $42 million (1.3 billion baht) will be in networks while the rest will be in upgrading shops and call centers for the advent of real 3G.