Following reports earlier this month that 4G spectrum auctions in Thailand would take place in August, the country’s regulatory authority has now postponed them to year-end.
Two processes will now take place on 11 November and 15 December, with winners being announced in December.
The military government has been uncertain about the date ever since it came to power in May.
In late February, it was reported auctions could potentially be delayed to next year, but then the date was confirmed for August, dismissing reports that the telecoms regulator needed to push back the sale because of delays in setting up the country’s digital economy committee.
At a meeting of the digital economy committee earlier this month, deputy prime minister Pridiyathorn Devakula asked the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to look at including additional spectrum bands in the auction apart from the planned 900MHz and 1.8GHz frequencies.
This included the return of 128MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum held by the state-owned broadcaster, the Mass Communications Organization of Thailand (MCOT).
Several state agencies have urged the government to drop the five-member committee, referred to as the superboard, because they see it as duplicating the role of the NBTC.
4G will help operators expand the data services they offer, in hopes that they will offset losses suffered due to a decrease in voice calls, the annual revenue from which is estimated to have fallen by about 10 per cent.
AIS, the only major operator without 4G services, is one of several expected to be keen to bid for the license.
Reuters has calculated, based on new starting prices, that the auction will help the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission earn THB65.31 billion ($2 billion) – 52 per cent higher than expected before the delays.
The starting price for the 1800MHz spectrum will be THB16.57 billion ($507 million) and THB16.085 billion for the 900MHz spectrum.