Thai 3G auction derailed

Nicole McCormick/Ovum
27 Sep 2010

Thailand’s 3G auctions, originally scheduled for Monday this week, have been indefinitely delayed by legal action. This has derailed Thailand’s 3G growth strategy, putting private operators under growing capacity pressure.

This week’s 3G auctions in Thailand were officially suspended yesterday. The National Telecommunications Commission was unable to overturn government-owned CAT Telecom’s injunction against the auctions.

CAT had argued that the yet-to-be-created National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) had constitutional responsibility for the auctions, not the existing National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

Thailand’s 3G auction could now be delayed until 2012, or even longer. And that’s bad news for the country’s private operators – AIS, DTAC, and True Move.

Two months ago, things were looking rosy for Thailand’s 3G auction. In July 2010, the NTC published its 3G plan in the Royal Gazette, and Thailand’s 3G auction rules became law. The NTC set an auction date of 20 September 2010.

This was a major breakthrough for the NTC – the country’s 3G auction plan had been debated for five years. On 14 September 2010, AIS, DTAC, and True Move all qualified to participate in the auction, after a last-minute scare about foreign ownership rules.

With a week to go until the auction, government-owned CAT Telecom and TOT were still quiet. But the threat of a potential lawsuit by CAT or TOT lurked in the background.

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