Telecoms industry fears new 3G holdup | Bangkok Post: business

Business > Telecom

Telecoms industry fears new 3G holdup

Court to be asked to stall network auction again

  • Published: | Viewed: 8,503 | Comments: 23
  • Online news: Telecom
  • Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana, Darana Chudasri and Nuntawun Polkuamdee
- +

Next week's planned auction of third-generation wireless licences could be suspended due to a last-minute challenge from the Administrative Court. Telecommunications expert Anuparp Thiralarp said he would lodge a legal suit Wednesday, asking the Administrative Court to suspend the 3G licence auction. 

The filing will ask the court to suspend the auction until the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) amends its regulations to "better benefit the public in compliance with the constitution", Mr Anuparp said.The NBTC plans to auction off bandwidth in the 2100 megahertz band on Oct 16. The three main private mobile operators - Advanced Info Service (AIS), Dtac and True Move - all are expected to bid for spectrum.While all three currently offer limited 3G services using the 850 MHz band, the shift to the 2100 MHz frequency would move the country's telecommunications infrastructure closer to international standards. More importantly, all three providers would be able to offer services outside of the constraints and revenue-sharing deals made under their current telecom concessions with state-owned TOT Plc and CAT Telecom.Telecom analysts and experts warned that further delays in the auction of 3G licences would be highly negative for the industry's development as well as for investor confidence.A prior attempt to auction licences in 2010 by the NBTC's predecessor, the National Telecom Commission, was also derailed at the last moment due to a court injunction.But Mr Anuparp said the current auction process lacked four key conditions that would help ensure the public's interest was served, starting with bandwidth standards that would clearly stipulate the faster speeds and benefits consumers would receive from 3G.He said the NBTC also lacks rules that would regulate pricing of data transmissions charged by operator, a loophole that could result in licence holders increasing data charges at the expense of consumers.Thirdly, he said, the auction framework does not specify the responsibility of licence holders to provide services to the disadvantaged or consumers in remote areas. Mr Anuparp said that in other countries, telecom regulators generally stipulate minimum service requirements for licence holders to ensure widespread coverage, but the NBTC has ignored this issue altogether.Mr Anuparp also argued that the NBTC has not stipulated what it will do with the tens of billions of baht potentially to be gained from the sale of 3G licences, whether it be to remit the proceeds to the government or reinvest the funds into public services and infrastructure."The public is the owner of this frequency. Yet the 3G auction does not maximise the benefits for the public, as required by the constitution," he said.But NBTC commissioner Pravit Leesatapornwongsa questioned whether Mr Anuparp had standing to file a suit, as he had no direct interest in the auction.Mr Pravit said the situation differed considerably from the 2010 auction,...

This article is older than 60 days, which we reserve for our premium members only.You can subscribe to our premium member subscription, here.

23 people commented about the above

Readers are urged not to submit comments that may cause legal dispute including slanderous, vulgar or violent language, incorrectly spelt names, discuss moderation action, quotes with no source or anything deemed critical of the monarchy. More information in our terms of use.

Please use our forum for more candid, lengthy, conversational and open discussion between one another.

  • Latest
  • Oldest
  • Most replied to
  • Most liked
  • Most disliked

    Click here to view more comments