Thailand to auction 3G licences by Q1 2012
telecommunications and broadcasting regulator expects to auction off licenses
to operate the frequency spectrum used for third-generation mobile phone
services in the first quarter of 2012 at the earliest after outstanding legal
issues are resolved, an acting member of the regulator said.
The frequency licensing move is seen as a key step in the continuing
liberalization of Thailand's telecom industry, which is dominated by two
state-owned firms that hold rights to grant contracts to private operators.
Analysts say progress on the 3G platform can provide substantial economic
benefits for the country, where broadband penetration is relatively low.
In September 2010, a Thai court issued an injunction against the planned
auction of 3G mobile licenses to private operators after state-owned firms CAT
Telecom and TOT Corp. PCL filed petitions challenging the authority of the
Thailand's National Telecommunications Commission to allocate the 2.1-gigahertz
frequency spectrum used for 3G services.
"The earliest (the auction can
happen) should be by the first quarter of next year," acting National
Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commissioner Natee Sukonrat said Tuesday in
an interview with Dow Jones Newswires."The auction of the 3G licenses have
to be delayed until we have the new organization," the National
Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, which will have the legal
authority to conduct the licensing.
The independent body, which will supervise Thailand's telecom and broadcasting
sectors, is likely to be formally established by mid-September, about one or
two months after a new parliament is formed, Natee said. Until then, the NBTC's
responsibilities are being performed by its predecessor, the National
Telecommunication Commission, of which Natee is a member.
Plans governing telecom and broadcasting management and frequency
allocation--another prerequisite for frequency licensing--should be ready by
early August, said Natee, who was attending the Nomura Asia Equity Forum in
The delay in 3G licensing has forced Thailand's major mobile phone operators to
turn to high-speed packet access, or HSPA, technology to facilitate 3G services
by upgrading their 850-900 megahertz frequencies, used for second-generation
services. Some have scrambled to secure deals with state-owned CAT and TOT, to
use their existing networks to start offering 3G mobile services.
In January, True Corp. PCL signed 15-year deals with CAT that will allow the
private company to install a 3G network on CAT's HSPA network in exchange for
the right to resell the service via its Real Move unit.
Critics, including private operator Total Access Communication PCL, say the
deals are unfair, and a result of anti-competitive environment under which CAT
and TOT issue "concessions" for private firms to operate.
"Right now, we're under the concession system and real competition isn't
happening," Natee said, adding the NBTC aims to create a more level
playing field, where all operators are issued licenses and face similar terms
Besides improving broadband access, the 3G license auction will also help
enable "free and fair competition," he said.
"When everyone gets their own spectrum license, have their own equipment
and network to provide services, we will see real competition happening. This
will benefit the Thai people in terms of price and quality of service," he
Total Access, Thailand's second-largest mobile phone operator by subscribers,
in late April filed a court complaint with the Central Administrative Court,
arguing the deals between CAT and True Corp. were "anti-competitive,
unlawful and discriminatory."
The court said last month it will not block the deals, but will examine them to
see if they breach any Thai laws.
Источник: Total Telecom
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