Thai 900-MHz auction thrown into doubt

Don Sambandaraksa
28 Jul 2015

Thai prime minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered the ICT Ministry to sort out the outstanding issues between state telco TOT Corporation and its concessionaire AIS and has set a deadline for resolution within one month.

Thailand’s regulator has scheduled auctions for 30 MHz of 1800-MHz and 20 MHz of 900-MHz spectrum on 10 November and 11 November, respectively.

Key issues include the supreme court conviction of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on conflict of interest charges when his government amended the concession reducing prepaid revenue share to be paid to the state under the concession. At the time, AIS was majority owned by Thaksin’s wife, children, cook and driver.

Other issues include the calculation of revenue share that excluded roaming revenue, incomplete return of concessionary assets, incomplete payment of interconnection charges and the matter of a missing bank guarantee.

General Prayuth also ordered the Constitutional Court to rule whether TOT has rights to 900-MHz spectrum until 2025 as TOT argues is the case in the 1997 constitution, or whether that spectrum must be returned to the regulator for re-allocation as per the 2010 frequency act.

Meanwhile at a NBTC public forum hearing on the upcoming auction, it was suggested that the junta should use the absolute power clause in the constitution, article 44, to force CAT and TOT to hand back spectrum for re-allocation.

Commissioner Prasert Silphiphat was quoted as saying that the NBTC had failed in persuading the two state telos to hand back spectrum for reallocation and that use of the absolute power clause might be necessary to break the deadlock.

He noted that the state telcos simply do not have the resources to move their operations to new frequencies.

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