Thailand’s long-overdue 2.1-GHz 3G auction concluded predictably with a paltry 2.8% premium over reserve prices realised, all from one operator, AIS.
Despite promises of an enthusiastic auction as bidders would race to be first to select spectrum, both True and Dtac bid the minimum $146 million (4.5 billion baht) per 5-MHz slot and only AIS bid a small premium.
The reserve price for all nine slots was $1.32 billion (40.5 billion baht) and the auction went for $1.35 billion (41,650 million baht).
The official results are due in three days and the licences to be issued within 90 days, though the NBTC has said they will issue them before the end of the year.
As highest bidder, AIS subsidiary Advance Wireless Network picked first and went with the highest of the three slots.
True subsidiary Real Future and Dtac Network - who had tied at the reserve price - drew lots. True picked next, selecting the middle 15-MHz while Dtac was last and got the bottom 15-MHz.
This was counter to the NBTC’s explanation that the bidders would fight in the bidding round to be able to pick the lowest frequency, as it would have the best propagation.
NBTC deputy chairman and chair of telecommunications Setthapong Malisuwan said that AIS did so in order to be placed next to its long-term partner TOT for strategic reasons.
He also said he knew why True did not pick the best slot and instead picked the middle slot, but that he would be sued if he said it on mic.