Thai 3G license allocation rushed through

Don Sambandaraksa
10 Dec 2012

Thailand’s telecom regulator has approved licences for the three winners of October's 2.1-GHz 3G auction.

Effective immediately from 7 December, subsidiaries of AIS, Dtac and TrueMove have secured 15-year licences, due to expire in December 2027.

At the same time, the commission also issued an order to all the telcos to reduce their average price by 15% or risk having their new licences revoked.

The five-member telecom sub-board granted the licences with one commissioner voting against.

However, a clerical error saw the AIS and Dtac licences issued on the same frequency.

Dr Pravit Leesathapornwongsa said it was impossible to read the 100 pages he was asked to approve in detail in the time given.

He said that the error in awarding Dtac and AIS the same frequency - and the outstanding legal uncertainty as to whether it is the 5-member telecom sub-board or the full 11-member board that has the duty to issue licences - might result in problems further down the line.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the office of the ombudsman Rakke-chai Chachai said that the office plans to lodge an appeal with the supreme administrative court and expects to do so before 20 December.

The ombudsman had previously filed a lawsuit against the telecom regulator with the administrative court. The suit had three claims - that the full 11-member board had to ratify the auction, not the 5-member telecom board; that the auction was not a spectrum auction but an auction to pick first; and the auction was not competitive.

The court dismissed the ombudsman’s lawsuit saying that it did not have the authority to scrutinise the independent telecom regulator.

He said that if the supreme administrative court upholds the lower court’s decision, the office may file a lawsuit with the constitutional court as the the entire auction has left too many questions that need to be answered.

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