Thai court orders 3G auction freeze

Dylan Bushell-Embling
17 Sep 2010

Thailand's 3G auction is in limbo, after a court granted CAT Telecom's request for an injunction days before it was scheduled to start.

The Administrative Court last night agreed with CAT's argument that regulator NTC has no authority to hold the auction, which was to have began on Monday, the Bangkok Post said.

While NTC plans to appeal the ruling today, the auction will need to be canceled if the court decision is not reversed in time.

The court ruled that the allocation of 3G spectrum should wait until the formation of new super-regulator the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

Establishment of the body - which would oversee areas with both broadcasting and telecom applications, including 3G spectrum - has been stipulated in a bill currently pending further approval by Thailand's house of representatives.

The bill still requires scrutiny from a joint committee, and may not be passed for several months.

A senior official at TOT on Thursday told Reuters the company also would lodge an appeal to block the auction.

Both TOT and CAT Telecom stand to lose from the 3G licensing process – while the existing regime has operators paying around 25%-30% of their revenue to state-owned companies like TOT and CAT, under the 3G licensing regime this would be reduced to 6%.

The delays have drawn protests from AIS, DTAC and True, the companies cleared to take part in the auctions.

“I only hope that the appeal will allow the process to move forward. If the auction is put off indefinitely, it means the country will be going backwards,” True CEO Suphachai Chearavanont told the Post.


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