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Thai regulator OKs 3G auction plan

17 мая 2012

Thailand inched closer to allocating 3G licences this week when the regulator gave the green light to a draft auction framework for 2.1-GHz spectrum.

The news came as research firm GfK released figures that show one in five mobile users in Thailand now has a smartphone and predicted that the full rollout of 3G services in the country will trigger an even greater uptick in the smartphone adoption rate.

Thailand's main mobile operators already offer limited 3G services via various agreements with state-run telcos TOT and CAT, but as it stands only TOT holds spectrum in the 2.1-GHz band. The country has been debating the rules governing the auction of 3G spectrum for a decade, but to date has failed to bring the process to completion, largely due to complications linked to the establishment of an independent regulator.

On Tuesday a committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) approved a draft 2.1-GHz auction framework that scraps certain conditions previously attached to the spectrum and should pave the way for licences to be allocated in the third quarter of this year, the Bangkok Post reported.

The committee's draft, which will be submitted to the full NBTC broad for approval next month, proposes that the 2.1-GHz spectrum in question be split into nine 5-MHz slots.

The paper explained that the committee removed a number of conditions imposed by the NBTC's predecessor, the National Telecommunication Commission. These include the N-1 condition, which essentially stated that the number of licences awarded in the auction would be one fewer than the number of bidders. The committee also removed the requirement that winners would have to have been listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand for three years prior to entering the auction.

Reserve prices for the licences, previously set within a range of 7 billion baht to 10 billion baht (€175 million-€250 million) each, have yet to be agreed upon.

Meanwhile, the number of smartphones in circulation in Thailand suggests there could be significant pent-up demand for 3G.

On Wednesday GfK reported that 758,000 smartphones were sold in Thailand in the first quarter of the year, out of a total of 3.8 million mobile phones.

"[The] smartphone penetration level in Thailand is considered low when compared with some of the other markets in the region like Singapore and Malaysia," said Wichit Purepong, general manager of GfK Thailand, in a statement.

"This presents a huge potential to smartphone manufacturers and we can expect the rate of adoption to accelerate when telecom operators in the country fully roll out their 3G services in the very near future," he added. "It is predicted that the Thai smartphone market will more than double in value and volume size in 2012."


Источник: Total Telecom

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