Natee deadlock: 3G auction 1Q12 at earliest, official says

15 Jun 2011

Telecoms commissioner Natee Sukonrat told Dow Jones Newswires yesterday that Thailand will not auction 2100MHz 3G licences until the first quarter of 2012 at the very earliest. In the interview, Natee reiterated that outstanding legal issues must first be resolved before ending the long wait for next-generation frequencies and full licences outside of the existing build-transfer-operate (BTO) concessions issued by state-run telcos TOT and CAT. In September 2010 the Supreme Administrative Court upheld a lower court’s eleventh-hour injunction against the planned 2100MHz auction on the basis that the National Telecommunications Commission (NCC) lacked the legal authority to allocate the frequencies. Since then, privately-owned cellcos AIS, DTAC and True have pursued alternative strategies to develop 3G services, including 850MHz/900MHz UMTS rollouts and tie-ups with the state telcos. The key task that must be completed before proceeding with an auction is the transformation of the NCC into the National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). Natee indicated that the new regulator could be formally established by mid-September 2011, about one or two months after a new parliament is formed. A pre-requisite frequency allocation plan should be ‘ready’ by early August 2011, the commissioner added.