Five foreign mobile operators have shown interest in partnering state-owned CAT Telecom to bid for a licence in Thailand’s upcoming 3G auction, reports the Bangkok Post. CAT’s president Jirayuth Roongsrithong did not name the potential partners but said they had overseas experience and could compete with the two local mobile market leaders [AIS and DTAC] and their financially strong foreign shareholders. He added that CAT was determined to win one of the four licences on offer. ‘If we lose the bid, it may become a crisis for CAT in the future,’ he said. Jirayuth said CAT’s position should be strengthened by taking full control of a nationwide CDMA2000 network once a deal is completed with joint venture partner Hutchison to buy out the infrastructure in central provinces – expected to close by the end of the year. CAT currently operates its CDMA-based mobile services, including 3G 1xEV-DO, with two 10MHz bandwidth slots in the 800MHz range, and wants a concession with at least 10MHz of 2100MHz UMTS spectrum to expand its operations and adopt W-CDMA/HSPA technology.