Eight bidders so far for Thai 3G, but do further setbacks await?

Thailand’s 3G auctions, set to take place on the 28th and 29th of September, have so far attracted eight bidders. Bid documents for the auctions have been purchased by the market leader AIS as well as its subsidiary AWN, the second largest market share DTAC and its subsidiary DTAC Internet Service, the third place True Move and its subsidiary SK Wireless, as well as I-Mobile, Loxley and Samart.

Bidding is restricted so that the major operators may only bid using one firm; therefore, only five of the eight companies will be able to bid. There are another 12 bidding documents available via Thailand’s regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). The documents are available for purchase until the 29th of August, with the deadline for proposals set for the 30th of August.

The starting price for bids for a 15-year licence has been fixed at THB12.8 billion (US$402.9 million). Although the auction has been set for the end of September, there are concerns that it could be delayed yet again, as the new National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission is scheduled to take the place of the NTC. All three members of the current regulator are drawing to the end of their period in office, which will conclude next month. The change in regulator could result in the auctions becoming embroiled in legal challenges.

Wireless Intelligence reports that Thailand is nearing 70 million mobile connections with a 106% penetration rate; despite this, it is among the last countries in South East Asia to auction 3G spectrum.

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