3G wireless auction hangs in the balance
Uncertainty continues to surround the fate of the third-generation (3G) wireless spectrum auction, as the Central Administrative Court yesterday delayed its decision on whether next week's auction can go ahead as scheduled.
- Published: 11/10/2012 at 12:00 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Anuparp Thiralarp, the former president of the Thailand TelecommunicationManagement Academy, shows a petition he filed with the Administrative Court yesterday asking it to halt the planned auction of thirdgeneration (3G) wireless licences. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
In addition to the injunction sought by telecom expert Anuparp Thiralarp from the court yesterday, the Consumer Rights Protection Association (CRPA), led by president Prayad Senwirat, also filed a second complaint against the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC).
The CRPA asked the court to reverse the committee's announcement on Monday of the three qualified bidders.
The court initiated an emergency session yesterday on whether to issue an urgent injunction after it received documents from Mr Anuparp, who asked the court to suspend the auction until the NBTC amends its regulations to better benefit the public in compliance with Section 47 of the constitution, saying radio frequencies for telecom and broadcasting services are national resources.
The filing also said the NBTC lacks rules that would regulate 3G network rollout in remote areas. The regulator stipulated that licence holders must expand their network coverage to 50% of the total population in the first two years after receiving a licence, and expand it to 80% of the population within four years.
Mr Anuparp added the NBTC also does not specify the minimum speed of 3G services and pricing of data transmission charged by operators.
If the court issues an urgent emergency injunction against the 3G bid, it would force the NBTC to suspend the auction, scheduled for next Tuesday.
The petition filed by Mr Prayad requested the court to investigate the shareholding structure of DTAC Network, a subsidiary of Norwegian-based Total Access Communication (DTAC).
The NBTC announced on Monday the three qualified applicants who will bid in the 3G auction: Advanced Wireless Network (AWN), a subsidiary of the country's biggest mobile operator Advanced Info Service; DTAC Network, a subsidiary of DTAC; and Real Future, a subsidiary of True Corporation.
Col Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the NBTC's telecom committee, said the legal challenges came as no surprise.
"I also learned that someone [is] planning to lodge a legal suit asking the court to take legal action against me, on the basis the auction will damage the country," he said.
Two more lawsuits are also expected. The first one would be filed by Piram Kasemwong, a former member of the TOT labour union, demanding a build-transfer-operate condition for the 3G concession, while the second one is expected to be filed by Boonchai Rungruengpisalsuk, a private citizen who wanted the court to set a cap of 250 baht for the 3G service monthly fee.
Col Settapong said the NBTC is considering suing anyone who disrupts the auction.
About the author
- Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana & Mongkol Bangprapa