NBTC: 'No idea' when 3G licences will be handed out

NBTC: 'No idea' when 3G licences will be handed out

Scrutiny by agencies likely to delay process

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has to delay granting 3G licences to the three bid winners of the recent auction.

The regulator has no idea when it will award the licences, said NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasit.

The 3G spectrum auction on Oct 16 has attracted heavy scrutiny, with three separate investigations under way into whether the auction results or the NBTC violated any laws.

The NBTC's five-member telecom committee endorsed the auction result on Oct 18, with only one commissioner abstaining from the vote.

But some critics said the results of the auction should be approved by all 11 commissioners, not just the five telecom members.

The board of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) last week set up a subcommittee to probe the 11 members of the NBTC for violations of criminal law.

The NBTC, meanwhile, recently set up an internal panel to investigate whether any price collusion took place among the bidders.

Three agencies _ the NACC, the Department of Special Investigation and the Ombudsman Office _ are investigating the process and results of the auction.

Mr Takorn said the NBTC must wait for the three agencies to finish their investigations before determining the exact time for licensing.

Under 3G auction rules, the NBTC must award licences to the winners within 90 days of the auction results being endorsed, or by January 2013.

Mr Takorn said the NBTC's internal panel investigating price collusion will focus on DTAC and True's subsidiaries and why the two companies offered equal final bids at the minimum price, or totalling 13.5 billion baht.

DTAC and True got three slots of bandwidth each at a reserve price of 4.5 billion per slot.

In another development, the NBTC's telecom committee, led by chairman Col Settapong Malisuwan, met yesterday with the chief of the Ombudsman Office, Phanit Nitithanprapas, to give further details and clarify the auction results.

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