Only three 3G bidders, but more hoped for in second round

31 Aug 2010

Thailand’s three largest cellcos – AIS, DTAC and True Move – submitted bid documents for 3G network operating licences by yesterday’s deadline ahead of an auction scheduled for 20-28 September, but there were no other valid entrants. The Bangkok Post reports that automotive firm Win Win NGV also submitted documents but failed to include the required THB1.28 billion (USD41 million) bank guarantee as deposit. AIS will bid via subsidiary Advance Wireless Network, DTAC via DTAC Internet Service and True Move through its Real Move unit. Two 3G MVNOs in Bangkok, Samart and Loxley, had been mulling bids, as had Thai communications group Jasmine International, but did not follow up their interest with a bid proposal. However, there is the possibility of other bidders coming forward in a second round auction, as the National Communications Commission (NTC) has decided to use an ‘N-1’ approach, meaning the number of licences available in a single auction will equal the number of bidders minus one. As it has allocated three 2×15MHz blocks of paired 2100MHz/1900MHz spectrum for UMTS licensing, the NTC plans to hold a second auction for the remaining concession 90 days after the close of the first. The starting bid would be the winning price of the first auction, which has a starting bid value of THB12.8 billion. China Mobile and South Korea’s SK Telecom have reportedly expressed interest in the Thai 3G market.