Firms line up for 3G broadband auction

A total of 17 companies have picked up application forms for Thailand's imminent third-generation (3G) auction for the 2.1-gigahertz spectrum, one month after the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's notice of availability.

However, it is widely expected by industry observers that only three major mobile operators _ Advance Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Move, will participate in the bid.

As of yesterday _ the last day for interested companies to pick up the forms _ 17 companies from 11 groups had picked up 3G application forms.

They include three companies each from the AIS and True Corporation groups, and two companies each from DTAC and Jasmine International.

The other companies are ACT Mobile, a subsidiary of TOT Plc; BB Connect of the Benchachinda Group, the former owner of DTAC; Cable Thai Holding, a cable TV operator owned by Wichai Thongtang, a former lawyer of Thaksin Shinawatra; Jaya Soft Vision, a subsidiary of the telecommunications solutions firm JRW Utility; Victory Motor, owned by Yuthana Phothasuthon; Symphony Communication; and Tantawan Telecommunication.

Companies that participate in the 3G spectrum auction must submit their application forms by 4.30pm today.

The NBTC will announce the qualified bidders on Oct 9.

Disqualified firms can appeal before the auction takes place.

The NBTC has set Oct 16 as the auction date for the 3G spectrum. Bid winners will be announced on Oct 22.

The auction will offer nine 5-MHz slots out of 45 MHz of bandwidth on the 2.1-GHz spectrum.

The reserve price for a 5-MHz block of the spectrum has been set at 4.5 billion baht.

The auction will be an ascending-bid type, with each participant allowed to buy up to 15 MHz.

"We want to see the 3G bidding process proceed smoothly with no further delay," said Federation of Thai Industries chairman Payungsak Chartsutipol yesterday at a seminar.

He said 3G will spur several billions of baht in network investment from telecom operators, and will likely stimulate other telecommunications-related businesses.

Mr Payungsak said even though Thailand has some advantages over other countries in the region, the country's IT infrastructure development remained poor.

About the author

Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana
Position: Senior Business Reporter