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NEWS UPDATES 9 August 2010

Thailand's 3G auction in turmoil

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In Thailand the auction for 3G spectrum scheduled for the fourth week of September appears more muddled than ever as directions from the government about the "new" spectrum remain as unclear as some of Bangkok's canals.

The unclear issues are: limits on how the spectrum can be used, unclear pricing, interconnection charges, adherence to international standards universal service obligation details and now a vague message from the National Telecommunications Commission about "foreign dominance."

These issues are likely to make any foreign company unlikely to participate in the auction and even those presently operating a mobile service in Thailand are getting queasy.

The second largest mobile phone service provider, DTAC, with its major shareholder being Telenor of Norway appears to be in a quandary. DTAC Has not yet confirmed its participation in the auction as it waits for a study by its legal team.

If the auction proceeds in the present unclear manner it would appear to be a disaster in the making for Thailand. Numerous legal suits could arise and the "foreign dominance" issue flies in the face of the treaties Thailand as signed with the Asean community that allow for liberalization of the telecoms industry in 2015, including up to 75 percent foreign ownership.

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