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Further delay to 3G licences in Thailand

27 ноября 2009

The Thai government is planning to renegotiate telecoms concessions signed under previous administrations in a move that could further delay the country’s long-anticipated auction of third generation mobile phone licences.

“We have a legacy of different concessions being given by different state agencies to different people on different terms,” Korn Chatikavanij, the finance minister, told the Financial Times in an interview. “We want to provide a standardisation so that free and fair competition could exist and the private sector could have a greater level of confidence to make the kind of investments we want to see.”

The granting of Thailand’s original telecoms concessions under previous governments was fraught with accusations of undue political influence being wielded.

Thailand’s leading three mobile phone operators – Advanced Info Service, Total Access Communication and TrueMove – have wide variations in the terms of their licences.

Mr Korn said he believed that before the government could move ahead with its plan to auction four 3G licences, it needed to clean up past mistakes. The process would involve trying to broker an agreement between some of Thailand’s biggest telecoms operators.

The minister said that “rather than doing what every other government has been doing, which is pile one problem on another, we decided to take a deep breath, clarify our position with every stakeholder – state agencies, private sector – and come to a common agreement as to what the ideal competitive structure should be for the industry today and going forward”.

He added: “The private sector at the moment is looking at the abyss ... with the existing concessions, for some of them the validity of the concessions themselves is in question so we want to give them clarity.”

However, Mr Korn admitted that sorting through the existing licensing issue would delay the December deadline for 3G. The 3G licences have already been delayed by several years by policy changes and political manoeuvring.

“It will be next year, we need a few months of work to do what is necessary,” he said.

Sriyan Pietersz, the head of research for JPMorgan in Bangkok, said that the government should be focusing on the future. “The issue is not the old concessions: the country needs to move forward on 3G.” Mr Pietersz said that a lack of broadband penetration in Thailand was holding back the economy and an alternative platform like 3G would reap substantial economic returns.


Источник: Financial Times

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