True Move confirms auction no-show
Source says 1800MHz spectrum not needed
True Move has reiterated its intention to sit out the 1800-megahertz spectrum auction scheduled for August in a statement filed with the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) yesterday, aimed at curbing widespread speculation on the company's shares.
"We want to end public speculation about our shares by announcing to the stock market our intent not to participate in the 1800MHz auction," said a source at True Corporation who asked not to be named.
The country's second-largest mobile operator submitted a letter to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) last month, in which it claimed it would not join the August auction, citing its current combined bandwidth from a variety of spectra (both low and high frequency) and capacity, saying that can serve double the amount of its existing customers.
As of March 31, True Move had 27.6 million subscribers, while mobile leader Advanced Info Service (AIS) had 40.1 million. True Move has a combined 110MHz of bandwidth, compared with AIS's 80MHz.
"We have 40% more bandwidth than AIS does, but AIS's subscriber base is 45% larger than ours. We don't need to unnecessarily invest in networks if we have huge bandwidth and capacity," said the source.
Towards the end of last year, AIS and True Move jointly asked the government to invoke Section 44 to extend their final payment term for the 2015 1800MHz spectrum auction. That request remains up in the air after facing heavy criticism from academics and activists.
The 2600-, 700-, and 1800MHz spectra (which cannot be sold in August's auction) are also queued for bidding over the next two years.
"True Move can wait until that time to reconsider if it needs more spectra," said the source, adding DTAC will have no choice but to bid, as the firm needs to reassure its customers.
The NBTC will auction three blocks (2×15MHz each) with a reserve price of 37.45 billion baht, valid for 15 years. All interested bidders are invited to submit their applications on June 15, with the NBTC scheduled to announce the qualified bidders by Aug 2. The tender itself will be held on Aug 4.
All bidders must deposit 1.87 billion baht as a bid guarantee to participate in the tender. If only one bid is received, the regulator will postpone the auction for 30 days and if no applications are received during the grace period, one concession will be auctioned to the bidder at a one-time increment of 75 million on the 37.45 billion reserve price.
True Corp recently received the proceeds of the sales of its Digital Telecommunication Infrastructure Fund, worth 50.6 billion baht. The source said the company will allocate the money for debt repayment and business expansion.