3G auction goes to Admin Court

The issuing of 3G wireless licences will shift to the Administrative Court on Wednesday, when an academic will petition the court to suspend the auction next week.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on Tuesday announced their were three qualified applicants  - Advanced Wireless Network, a unit of Advanced Info Service; Dtac Network; and Real Future, which is part of True Corp.

Sethapong Malisuwan, NBTC chairman for telecommunications, said the NBTC plans to auction off the 2100 megahertz bandwidth on Oct 16, for use with 3G technology.

The only stumbling block between now and the auction day is the move by the former president of the Thailand Telecommunication Management Academy, Anuparp Thiralarp.

He has said he will petition the court on Wednesday to halt the auction until the NBTC amends its regulations to "better benefit the public in compliance with the constitution''.

The court will decide whether to accept the case, or reject it. A rejection would clear the last hurdle for the bidding for the frequencies.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasit on Monday brushed off the tcourt challenge. He said five other people had already lodged legal challenges against the auction.

He insisted there would be no further delays to the auction, which is being held under the Frequency Allocation Act of 2010.

The NBTC will transfer tens of billions of baht from the sale of the 3G spectrum to the Finance Ministry to invest in other public services, Mr Takorn added.

Mr Takorn said the 3G licensing auction procedure is legally binding and covers all possible concerns, including service quality standards, technology development and consumer protection.

Opponents of the auction have called on the NBTC to revise the bid terms. One demand is that the NBTC should limit service charges for 3G mobile services at 200 baht a month.

Mr Takorn said he expected that the 3G service will come with lower prices than existing rates because operators will enjoy lower operating costs under the new licensing system.

3G operators will be subject to a licensing fee of 2% of their annual revenues and a 3.75% universal service obligation tax on the revenue.

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