Court ruling expected soon on whether to allow 3G bid

The Administrative Court is now deliberating whether to order the suspension of 3G licences to the three bid winners.

A decision is expected soon following its two-day inquiry into the bidding process. The inquiry wrapped up yesterday.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is required to issue the licences within 90 days of approving the auction's outcome.

The results were endorsed on Oct 18, two days after the Oct 16 auction.

But while the NBTC's telecom committee works to issue the licences, the Office of the Ombudsman is seeking to stop it.

In its petition filed with the Administrative Court last week, the Office of the Ombudsman claimed the auction lacked free and fair competition which is required under the constitution.

It also called on the court to suspend the granting of the licences.

On the second day of the court's urgent inquiry yesterday, NBTC representatives led by Col Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the regulatory body's telecom committee, testified to defend the auction.

The Office of the Ombudsman addressed the court on Wednesday, claiming the auction of 2.1GHz 3G spectrum slots was in breach of the charter.

Speaking at the hearing yesterday, Col Settapong maintained the bidding was lawful. The panel had thoroughly studied the frequency allocation law before proceeding with the sales.

However, he said the agency would respect the court's ruling.

"And if the court rules in favour of the auction, we will be able to grant the licences within the timeframe," he said.

NBTC commissioner Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn said yesterday that the Office of the Ombudsman's petition was unlawful.

The agency failed to ask the NBTC to clarify the allegations before it decided to bring the case before the Administrative Court, he said.

He also said suspension of the licences would cause more damage than the suspension of the 3G bidding in 2010.

In September 2010, the Central Administrative Court issued an injunction to suspend the now-dissolved National Telecommunications Commission's planned auction of 3G-2.1GHz licences.

About the author

Writer: Mongkol Bangprapa
Position: Reporter