Thai 3G auction on course for Q3

Don Sambandaraksa
10 Apr 2012
Daily News

Thailand’s regulator has taken the somewhat whimsical step of requiring all the operators to swear to play fair, and to agree that anyone preventing the upcoming 2.1-GHz 3G auction will be deemed unpatriotic.

Sutthipol Thaweechaikarn, National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commissioner for legal on the telecommunications half, said that he was busy plugging the loopholes that might be used to derail the auction which remains on course for Q3 of this year.

In 2010, an auction was abandoned after state-owned CAT Telecom filed a volley of lawsuits with the administrative court, one of which hit home when the court agreed that the auction could not proceed without a frequency master plan. Such a master plan became official on April 4, removing that impediment.

Thaweechaikarn said that as a precaution he would summon all the operators to swear in public to play fair, not collude in bidding and that anyone using a legal loophole to scupper the auction would be condemned as unpatriotic and holding back the country’s development.

The auction was originally for three 15 MHz licences. State-owned TOT already has a 15 MHz licence on which it began operations in 2009.

However, Thaweechaikarn said that the new plan may be for the auction to be for 5 MHz in each round. This would also open the possibility of a new, smaller entrant joining the bidding. The new plan would be put to the full NBTC board before the weekend for ratification.

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