Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has set the final reserve price for 2100MHz band spectrum in the upcoming 3G licence auction, with bids to begin at THB4.5 billion (USD141.2 million) for each of the nine 2×5MHz blocks on offer. The regulator also finalised an individual spectrum cap of 2×20MHz for bidders, having scrapped a previously proposed 2×15MHz limit, to ensure competition for frequencies by avoiding the possibility of the three incumbent private cellcos ‘colluding’ to each buy 2×15MHz 3G licences at minimum bid prices. The NBTC will auction the spectrum using the simultaneous ascending bid method, which allows participants to bid for all spectrum lots at the same time. The reserve price will form part of an information memorandum to be issued for public hearing before being published in the Royal Gazette by August, ahead of the auction scheduled for around October. The 2100MHz concessions will permit the rollout of 3G and 4G technologies.
In related news, private sector Thai cellco DTAC has warned that draft legislation aimed at preventing foreign dominance, which is expected to be implemented in August, could derail the 3G auction, as it believes at least one bidder will be the subject of an inquiry into its foreign ownership structure under the new regulation. Alongside second-placed DTAC, which is controlled by Norway’s Telenor, Singapore-backed market leader Advanced Info Service (AIS) will be bidding for a 2100MHz licence, as will Thai-owned True Corp (True Move). The draft rules involve operators submitting annual reports on foreign shareholders for scrutiny by the NBTC, which will order changes to ownership structure if deemed necessary.