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 23 Apr 2009

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Political crisis likely to delay Thai 3G licence auction

Thailand's plan to auction new licences for third-generation mobile phone services may be delayed from this year if its political crisis drags on, Reuters quoted the industry regulator as saying Wednesday.

"We have to admit that political instability could affect the plan and there is a chance it will be delayed," Prasert Apipunya, deputy secretary-general of the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC), told reporters.

But the NTC should be able to issue the 3G licences by the fourth quarter of this year, as planned, if the political problems did not escalate into more violence, he said.

The regulator was expected to choose a consultant in May to study how to auction the licences and it should take around three months to complete the study, Prasert said.

Licensing is seen as a key step in reforming the sector because companies will pay licence fees instead of paying a portion of their revenue to state-owned firms for the right to operate networks they built and paid for themselves, as they do now.

Telecoms operators are keen to receive 3G licences on the new 2.1 GHz spectrum, which analysts said should help reduce regulatory costs for operators.

Among them are top mobile phone operator Advanced Info Service (AIS), second-ranked Total Access Communication Plc and number three True Move, a subsidiary of True Corp.







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