Mobile LTE joins 900-MHz fray

Mobile LTE joins 900-MHz fray

Mobile LTE is the fifth group to pick up bidding documents for the planned auction of two 4G licences on the 900-megahertz spectrum scheduled for Dec 15.

The auction is expected to promote healthy competition for 4G bids, said Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

Documents are available for potential bidders until Oct 21.

The NBTC will hold a bidder conference on Oct 9 to discuss details before the companies file their forms on Oct 22.

Each bidder must pay a bidding fee of 500,000 baht, plus a deposit guarantee worth 5% of the reserve price. Each licence contains 10 MHz of bandwidth.

The reserve price for a 900-MHz licence is 12.9 billion baht or 80% of the estimated real spectrum value, Mr Takorn said.

Four groups have picked up bidding documents earlier. They are Advanced Wireless Network, a 3G mobile firm under Advanced Info Service; DTAC subsidiaries DTAC TriNet and DTAC Broadband; True Move subsidiaries True Move H Universal Communication and Hutchison Telecommunications (Thailand); and Jas Mobile Broadband, a subsidiary of Jasmine International.

According to an industry source, Mobile LTE is also among five companies to submit proposals to form a strategic partnership with TOT Plc, the state telecom, which is looking for a partner for expansion in fixed-line and mobile service.

TOT previously granted a 25-year concession to AIS for providing 2G service on the 900-MHz band; that deal expired last Wednesday. TOT did not want to return the spectrum to the regulator for the planned 4G auction.

Mobile LTE was founded last year by a group of investors with 100 million baht in registered capital. SET-listed Advanced Information Technology Plc (AIT) holds a 20% stake in the firm.

AIT chief Siripong Oontornpan has said Mobile LTE is ready to raise its capital by 20 times to finance development of 4G on the 900-MHz spectrum.

"We will raise our capital to 2 billion baht immediately after TOT selects us as a strategic partner to develop and provide 4G commercial service on the state telecom enterprise's 2100-MHz spectrum," he said recently.

Mr Takorn said the NBTC may consider an earlier auction date than Dec 15. The date will be finalised by the regulator's telecom committee on Oct 15, with the bids likely to take place nearer to the auction for two licences on the 1800-MHz spectrum set for Nov 11.

There are four potential bidders for the 1800-MHz auction.

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