Thai regulator threatens 3G delay over MNP

Thai regulator threatens 3G delay over MNP

Nicole McCormick  |   April 12, 2010
The Thai regulator is threatening to postpone November’s 3G auctions if the country’s operators do not introduce mobile number portability (MNP) by its August deadline.
National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) director Sudharma Yoonaidharma told the Nation newspaper that the commission’s board had discussed postponing the country’s 3G auction and would “really do it” if operators balked at the August deadline for MNP.
The commission has been urging operators to begin mobile MNP since early 2006.
But the five Thai operators – AIS, True Move, Hutchison CAT and Thai Mobile – have said that they need until November to wrap up installation and testing of MNP systems. 
The threats from the newly-installed NTC board follows its approval of new 3G auction timeframe earlier this month.
It aims to hold an industry consultation on the proposals in July and August, an NTC director told the Bangkok Post.
A final 3G plan is due to be published in late August, paving way for licenses to be issued in September or November.
Meanwhile, analysts at Credit Suisse believe the NTC, rather than the proposed unified regulator, the National Telecommunications and Broadcast Commission, will handle the 3G auction process.
A bill paving way for the creation of the NTBC was passed by parliament in late March, and is now awaiting Senate.
“The fact that the politicians are concerned with broader [political] issues for now may….slow the progress of the creation of the NTBC,” said Credit Suisse.
With politicians side-tracked, the NTC “could look to proceed” with the 3G auction, the bank said.
“Any prospect of an election could refocus politicians’ attention on raising money in the near term (eg through a 3G auction) and away from the potential long-term damage to the 2G concession streams of TOT Corp and CAT Corp,” adds Credit Suisse.
While the government had initially sounded supportive of the 3G plan, Credit Suisse said there was a recent U-turn towards protecting of 2G concession revenue streams of government-owned TOT and CAT Telecom.
Nicole McCormick

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