Government holds up 3G plans

5 Nov 2009

Thailand’s finance ministry yesterday delivered the country’s 3G plans a double whammy, telling state-run telco TOT to re-do its business plan for launching 3G services and ordering the regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission, to resolve legal questions about its authority to grant 3G licences before calling an auction. Both the TOT 3G launch and the international tender for 2100MHz licences were planned for next month, but last week the NTC indicated February was a more likely date for the auction, and the latest interference from the government adds further uncertainty. The Bangkok Post reports that the ministry’s decisions came as TOT announced that it would test-launch 3G services at a trade fair, Commart & Comtech Thailand 2009. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu voiced concerns over the status of existing telecoms concessions and revenue losses for state telecom enterprises if customers moved to new privately-run 3G networks (outside of build-transfer-operate [BTO] revenue-sharing agreements), adding that economic ministers would prefer both TOT and CAT Telecom to try to end their concessions with private operators within the next year through negotiations, and that the existing concessions were seen as a valid reason to delay the 3G auction. The finance and ICT ministers are expected to propose a solution within two weeks. On the legality of NTC issuing 3G licences, Mr Korbsak said that the Council of State had ruled the 3G auction was the sole authority of the yet-to-be established National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, as stipulated by the 2007 Constitution, but it would take until the end of 2010 for the NBCT to be formed.

Thailand, TOT