Thai 3G auction was not too cheap

Dominic P Arena/Value Partners
25 Oct 2012

Citizens, businesspeople and industry professionals everywhere are congratulating the NBTC for finally injecting much needed new bandwidth into the Thai telecoms market, at a price which is arguably fair market value for all – State and Industry alike. Commercial Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) will now use this spectrum to deploy and offer a wide array of affordable wireless broadband (3G and 4G) services which will bring Thailand massive economic and social benefits.

However, whilst it seems everyone agrees on the benefits 3G and 4G can bring to Thailand with the allocation of the 2.1GHz spectrum, it also seems that the final auction result has caused much heated discussion. This discussion has been fuelled by threats of legal challenges and unfounded sensationalist claims of “super low prices bringing a windfall to private operators at the expenses of the State.”

Why do I use such strong words? It is because from an independent professional and analytical standpoint, so far there seems to be a lack of quantitative assessment published of the prices paid for the 2.1-GHz spectrum versus industry benchmarks, and no published structured analysis of the industry issues/dynamics and trade-offs which the Thailand telecoms industry finds itself in today to explain why it so desperately needs to move ahead without more uncertainty hanging like a dark cloud overhead.

Below I will address the relevant issues at hand using factual data, benchmarks and analysis to demonstrate why the 2.1-GHz auction result is good for Thailand and why it should be ratified without threat of challenge immediately. It will then, I hope, become independently evident why any claims against the result are simply not factual, not relevant or not in the best interests of the Kingdom:

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