NBTC banking on VIP digits
Auctions of auspicious numbers set for August
The first auctions for VIP and auspicious mobile phone numbers will take place in August to cater to the growing craze for possessing unique numbers.
The auction for the first batch of 490,000 numbers will be conducted by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).
The regulator expects to fetch several billion baht from the first lot of VIP numbers, said Prasert Silpipat, an NBTC commissioner.
"We are considering the methods of auction, either to be made via online or traditional live auction," he said.
Mr Prasert said the NBTC had a total 16.32 million special numbers in stock, comprising 320,000 starting with the 08 prefix, 10 million with 09, 1.98 million with 06 and another 4.02 million with 06.
The highlight numbers are 099-999-9999, 099-191-9191 and 094-000-5000, which are numbers considered as lucky by affluent people in Thailand, especially wealthy Chinese.
It is common to see rich Thais paying a premium to get a phone number or licence plate with a lucky number as they believe that the sound of certain numbers is similar to the words for fortune, wealth or prosperity in the Thai language.
Mr Prasert said the NBTC had already finished a draft regulation for the lucky number auctions, which is expected to take effect in July.
Korkij Danchaivichit, the NBTC's vice secretary-general, said the regulator was categorising these numbers into groups on a grade-level basis.
The minimum price for each group will be established.
"The bidding prices will start from 1,000 baht to more than 1 million baht for each number," said Mr Korkij, adding that the revenue from the number auctions will go to the state coffers.
There are 105 million mobile subscriptions in Thailand, meaning that a mobile user has an average of 1.4-1.8 numbers.
The NBTC also reported that some 45 million mobile prepaid users have properly registered their numbers, out of 90 million prepaid customers.
Mobile operators have been fined 80,000 baht a day by the NBTC if they activate prepaid subscribers' SIM cards without registration from Feb 1.
After July 31, those failing to register subscriber information or who provide incorrect information will have their mobile voice and data services terminated.
"We believe that at least 60 million prepaid users can register their numbers before the deadline," said Mr Korkij, adding that the remaining 30 million prepaid numbers were inactive.
There are 50,000 service points to allow prepaid users to register via the regulator's web-based app.
Existing prepaid customers can now register at modern trade shops and department stores including Tesco Lotus and Big C. New prepaid customers can register their numbers at 7-Eleven convenience stores.