It was reported that Thailand’s National Telecommunications Commission may look to prevent the rollout of operator TOT’s 3G network, following question marks over the legitimacy of the regulator which have already led to the abandonment of a 3G auction in the country. During September 2010, CAT Telecom, a sister company of state-owned TOT, filed a legal action arguing that the 3G auction process should be overseen by a new regulatory body, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, which has not even been set-up yet, and that in the meantime NTC lacked the power to issue licences to new companies. Telecompaper reports that following this, the NTC has halted all spectrum-related activities, including the rollout of TOT’s 3G network, until its position has been clarified by the courts.

TOT had been in a strong position in the Thai market as, unlike its privately-owned competitors, it owns spectrum suitable for 3G services, giving it a head-start over its rivals. It was also reported that rival operators were looking to work with TOT on an MVNO basis, providing the company with another lucrative income stream from the sole 3G network in the country. It now looks as though a legal challenge which prevented the arrival of new 3G players in the market has slowed TOT’s own activities, reducing its ability to make the most of its early access to suitable frequencies. Dow Jones Newswires reports that TOT is planning a US$584 million tender for its network expansion, with its board approving a plan to borrow cash to fund the bulk of the cost; the company’s 3G efforts to date have been hampered by a lack of investment, it notes.