3G auction criticised

Telecom operaters seem happy, but Thai consumers may or may not be closer to having a true 3G system today after the low prices offered during yesterday’s bandwidth auction have prompted renewed threats of legal action against the NBTC.

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Top executives of Thailand’s three major mobile phone operators, from left, Dtac CEO Jon Eddy Abdullah; Advanced Info Service (AIS) vice chairman Somprasong Boonyachai; and True CEO Suphachai Chearavanont, pose for a photo prior to the 3G spectrum auction at the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission in Bangkok Tuesday. APICHIT JINAKUL


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Critics slam 3G 'giveaway'

Only three out of nine slots attract rival bids

Srisamorn Phoosuphanusorn,
Komsan Tortermvasana 
Suchit Leesa-Ngunansuk

Thailand's long-overdue sale of third-generation (3G) mobile spectrum bandwidth has attracted a storm of criticism.

Academics and politicians alike slammed telecom regulators Tuesday for essentially gifting new licences to the private sector at taxpayer expense.

Tuesday's 3G auction by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) saw all three mobile operators awarded spectrum in an auction criticised as uncompetitive and underpriced. The sale fetched 41.625 billion baht overall, only 1.125 billion or 2.78% above the reserve price.

The three bidders, all representing units of mobile operators Advanced Info Service (AIS), Dtac and TrueMove, each won their maximum quota of 15MHz of spectrum in seven rounds of bidding that were completed in six hours. Only three of the nine slots auctioned attracted competition, with six slots, representing 5MHz each, selling at the minimum reserve price of 4.5 billion baht.

Final revenue from the bidding was only 2.78% above the reserve price. APICHIT JINAKUL

Green Politics group leader Suriyasai Katasila, who last week sought a court injunction against the auction, blasted the results.

"It's the most ridiculous auction in the world," he said, adding that the operators will pay less for 3G than what they now pay the state each year through their current concessions.

"Six licences were given out free to the private sector, correct? And three licences saw bids only to create the illusion of competition," he said.

Mr Suriyasai said Green Politics would wait until the NBTC certifies the auction results, due within three days, before deciding its next move.

Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of NBTC's telecom committee, said the auction was not aimed at generating the highest bids, but rather to allocate bandwidth to the private sector to support the modernisation of the Thai telecommunications sector.

He acknowledged that the regulator would likely face heavy criticism in the days ahead.

"We expect and are ready for some harsh criticism," Col Settapong said.

Somkiat Tangkitvanich, president of the Thailand Development Research Institute, said the regulator holds clear responsibility for the low prices received.

The total loss for taxpayers is over 16.3 billion baht, based on price recommendations made by Chulalongkorn University economists hired by the NBTC to consider benchmark prices.

"I call on the NBTC to explain to the public how it will take responsibility for the damage. I also urge relevant agencies to investigate the matter further," Mr Somkiat said.

The revenue shortfall to the NBTC and the state is a boon for the three private operators, who essentially have received their 15-year licences for a pittance, he added.

"Each operator ends up paying less than one billion baht a year for the licenses, which is very cheap. It will not benefit consumers. It will only help the operators' bottom line," Mr Somkiat said.

"There were two disastrous mistakes in the auction design. First, allowing each bidder to bid for an equal amount of maximum bandwidth did not encourage competition. Second, setting the reserve price lower than the real value of the licences was highly damaging once competition was less than it should have been."

You can read the full story here: http://bit.ly/RzQr4y

executive – a senior manager in a business or other organisation ผู้บริหาร
prior – before something ก่อน
spectrum – in this case, the range of frequencies that can be used for communication purposes
auction – a usually public sale of goods or property, where people make higher and higher National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) – The independent regulator for the telecommunication and broadcasting sectors สำนักงานคณะกรรมการกิจการกระจายเสียง กิจการโทรทัศน์ และกิจการโทรคมนาคมแห่งชาติ (กสทช.)
critic – a person who expresses disapproval of somebody/something and talks about their bad qualities, especially publicly ผู้วิจารณ์, ผู้จับผิด, ผู้วิเคราะห์
slam – to strongly criticise someone or something  วิพากษ์วิจารณ์อย่างรุนแรง
giveaway – something that is giving free ของแจก
slot – a position, a time or an opportunity for somebody/something
rival – competing; opposing คู่แข่ง
bid – an offer to buy or provide something at a specific price การประมูล, การให้ราคา, การเสนอราคา
overdue – of something that should have been done earlier พ้นกำหนด, ที่เลยกำหนดเวลา
generation – a product or technology that is used at one time and may be improved creating a new generation รุ่น
overdue – of something that should have been done earlier, e.g., a payment that should have been paid before now พ้นกำหนด, ที่เลยกำหนดเวลา
bandwidth – the range of frequencies that make up a signal ช่วงความถี่ของคลื่นวิทยุ
academic – someone who teaches at a college, or who studies as part of their job นักวิชาการ
regulator – an official or group who make certain that the companies who operate a system work effectively and fairly ผู้มีอำนาจควบคุม
essentially – for the most part; mostly true, but not completely true เป็นหลัก, อย่างตามความจริง
gift – to give something for free ให้ฟรี
licence – an official document that gives someone permission to do or use something ใบอนุญาต
sector – a part of a country’s economic or business activity ภาค (เศรษฐกิจ)
private sector – businesses and industries that are not owned or controlled by the government ภาคเอกชน
uncompetitive – not competitive
underpriced – sold at a price that is too low and less than its real value กำหนดราคาต่ำกว่ามาตรฐาน
fetch – to be sold for a particular amount of money ขายในราคาหนึ่ง
reserve price – the lowest price allowed in an auction
maximum – the most possible ที่สูงสุด ที่มากที่สุด
quota – an amount of something that someone is officially allowed to have or do โควตา
competition – a situation in which people or organizations compete, i.e., try to be more successful or better than somebody else who is trying to do the same as you  การแข่งขัน
minimum – the lowest possible; the lowest allowed ต่ำที่สุด, น้อยที่สุด
revenue – income from taxes or business activities รายได้
injunction – an order form a court that prevents someone from doing something  คำสั่งคุ้มครองชั่วคราว, คำสั่งห้าม
blast – to criticise severely วิพากษ์วิจารณ์อย่างรุนแรง
ridiculous – silly or unreasonable and deserving to be laughed at น่าขัน, น่าหัวเราะ, ไร้สาระ
operator – a person or company that runs a business ผู้ดำเนินกิจการทางธุรกิจ, ผู้ประกอบธุรกิจ
state – government รัฐบาล
current – of the present time ปัจจุบัน
concession – a right that is given to a person or group to do a particular activity สัมปทาน
illusion – something that seems to exist but in fact does not, or seems to be something that it is not; a false idea or belief, especially about somebody or about a situation ภาพลวงตา, ภาพมายา, ความเข้าใจผิด
certify – to give a document confirming that someone or something meets a necessary standard รับรอง
due – expected to happen or should happen มีกำหนด
generate – to produce ก่อให้เกิด
allocate – to officially give out an amount of or share of something แบ่งส่วน
telecommunications – the science and technology of sending information by telephone, radio, or television โทรคมนาคม
acknowledge – to accept or admit that something exists, is true or is real ยอมรับ
harsh – strict, unkind and often unfair อย่างรุนแรง
total – complete โดยสิ้นเชิง
recommendation – a suggestion for how to solve a problem, deal with a situation ข้อเสนอแนะ
hire – to pay someone to work for you, especially for a short time จ้าง
consider – to give careful thought to something before making a decision พิจารณา
benchmark – something that can be measured and used as a standard that other things can be compared with เกณฑ์มาตรฐาน
take responsibility for – to say or admit you are the cause of something, usually something bad แสดงความรับผิดชอบ
relevant – directly connected and important to what is being discussed or considered ที่เกี่ยวข้อง
investigate – to try to find out the facts about something in order to learn the truth about it ตรวจสอบหาความจริง
matter – a situation or subject which is being dealt with or considered เรื่อง, ภารกิจ, งาน
shortfall – an amount which is less than the level that was expected or needed จำนวนที่ขาดไป, ปริมาณที่ขาดไป
boon – something that is very helpful and makes life easier for you  สิ่งที่เป็นประโยชน์, สิ่งที่ช่วยอำนวยความสะดวก
pittance – a very small amount of money that somebody receives เงินเล็กน้อย
benefit – to help someone มีประโยชน์ต่อ
consumer – someone who buys and uses goods and services ผู้บริโภค
bottom line – the final profit (or loss) กำไร (หรือการขาดทุน)
disastrous – extremely bad or unsuccessful ซึ่งทำให้เกิด (ภัยพิบัติ, ความหายนะ, ความโชคร้าย)
encourage – to make someone more likely to do something, or to make something more likely to happen ปลุกใจ

Related search: NBTC 3G auction

About the author

columnist
Writer: Terry Fredrickson
Position: Education Marketing and Support Manager