Thailand’s telecoms regulator has confirmed the reserve prices for its long-awaited 3G license auctions and predicted that the process will generate around US$1.2 billion. In line with earlier reports, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) will start the auction at THB4.6 billion (US$138 million) for each of the three licences of 10MHz bandwidth and THB5.2 billion (US$156 million) for one license of 15MHz. The four licenses will be in the 2.1GHz 3G frequency and valid for 15 years. According to a Reuters report, prices will be announced on the NTC’s website next week before a second round of public hearings on 12 November. The auction is scheduled to start in mid-December. “We should get about THB40 billion (US$1.2 billion) altogether from the bidding of the four licences,” Prasert Apipunya, NTC’s deputy-secretary general, told reporters yesterday.
Despite the developments, Reuters notes that some analysts and investors are worried that the process could still be derailed. Prasert admitted that the NTC still needs to consult with the government’s legal agency over whether it has authority to hold the auction, a move that analysts say could bring it to a halt. The country’s three largest mobile operators – AIS, DTAC and True Move – are all expected to bid for licenses, though the regulator stated that it also hoped the fourth license would be snapped up by a new market entrant. However, foreign investors looking to enter the market are required to form a joint-venture with a Thai company as current law limits foreign holdings in companies in the telecoms sector to 49 percent, the regulator said.