JAS faces 4G damage bill

JAS faces 4G damage bill

NBTC warns auction winner over default

JAS Mobile Broadband will be liable for any damage caused by the company's default on its instalment payment for the 900-megahertz spectrum licence despite the fact that a new 4G auction will begin at its winning price, insists the telecom regulator.

The government on Monday ordered the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to hold a new auction round for the spectrum on May 27. The reserve price must begin at JAS's winning price of 75.7 billion baht.

The state will invoke Section 44 of the interim constitution to enable the re-auction of the 900MHz spectrum.

"The NBTC's legislation advisory panel expects to conclude the form of compensation liable to JAS on April 28," said NBTC deputy secretary-general Korkij Danchaivichit.

But the exact amount of compensation will have to wait until the second auction has taken place, he said.

The panel has to take into account three key elements in considering compensation. They are possible damage resulting from JAS's default; possible revocation of telecom operating licences of JAS's parent firm Jasmine International; and identifying other parties involved in the default case.

Mr Korkij said JAS will certainly have to pay the NBTC 100 million baht, comprising 80 million in compensation for operating expenses incurred during the auction in December and another 20 million for the re-auction.

Even though the new auction will start at JAS's winning price, which means there will be no smaller winning bid, JAS will have to pay the NBTC compensation, Mr Korkij said.

In the worst case of the re-auction not taking place on May 27, JAS will face huge costs for damage, he said.

The NBTC plans to call representatives of Bangkok Bank and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Thai) or ICBC for a meeting on April 22 to explain why the banks did not lend money to JAS.

Pete Bodharamik, chief executive of JAS Mobile Broadband, told the NBTC that the company negotiated with several banks in Thailand including Bangkok Bank and the ICBC to fund the 900MHz licence payment.

Mr Korkij said the NBTC needed to discuss the issue with banks before making any decision on JAS's penalty.

The regulator might call some telecom vendors who previously committed to provide 4G network equipment support to JAS, including Huawei Technologies and ZTE, for more information.

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