Thai regulators hit back at poor 3G auction result claims

17 October 2012 | Kavit Majithia


Thai regulators have defended the results of the country’s long-awaited 3G mobile spectrum auction.

Market watchers have suggested the auction was severely underpriced, after yesterday’s auction netted the government $1.36 billion, 30% below the projected value set by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) advisory panel.

The country’s top three mobile operators acquired nine licences, paying approximately Bt4.63 billion, with each company owning three licences with a 15-year term each.

According to the Financial Times, critics of the auction, including consumer groups and a leading think tank, said it was uncompetitive and underpriced. Since the results were announced, some have threatened to take legal action to overturn the results if they are certified in January.

Regulators have defended the price, and claim that because Thailand remains one of the most underdeveloped for 3G services, the price was not a top priority.

According to Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of NBTC’s telecoms committee, the government’s main aim with this auction was to allocate 3G quickly, so they could implement the next phase of telecoms development and make the move to 4G, possibly next year.

Financial and telecoms analysts, as cited by the FT, claim the spectrum auction was transparent and creates a level playing field for all operators, moving away from the largely complex structure in which 2G was allocated in the country.

The three successful bidders were Advanced Wireless Network, market share leader DTAC and Real Future, a subsidiary of True Corp. NBTC has 90 days to certify the auction results.