Thailand moves to cap 3G prices

Don Sambandaraksa
23 Oct 2012

Thailand’s regulator has moved to pacify the growing public anger over the 2.1-GHz 3G non-auction by saying that the three winners will have to cut 3G prices to qualify for a license.

The national telecommunications and broadcasting commission has stated it expects telcos to negotiate a 15-20% price drop for new 3G packages and issue quality of service guarantees before licences are issued.

The also means that the three telcos’ CSR budgets will also have to be discussed, to ensure that the funds are channelled towards the greater good.

NBTC secretary-general Thakon Tantasit said that assuming a base price today of $29 (899 baht) for a typical 3G contract, the savings for the consumer would add up to 823 billion baht at 15% or 1.1 trillion baht at 20% over the duration of the 15-year licence.

NBTC commissioner for legal Suthipol Thaweechaikarn also said that there would be an investigation into the voting behaviour of the bidders and a report would be finished in 15 days.

However, earlier fellow commissioner Pravit Leesathapornwongsa told the press that the agreement with the auction consultant meant that the bidding records were not to be handed over to the NBTC under the terms of the contract.

Nor has the NBTC signalled how any retail price-cap can work, given that the wholesale and backhaul market remains firmly in the hands of the two state-telcos.

Meanwhile, Thakorn has asked the finance ministry to start disciplinary proceedings over deputy permanent secretary Supha Piyajiti.

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