Bandwidth purchase limit for 3G auction to be cut

The bandwidth purchase limit for the third-generation (3G) licensing auction will likely be reduced from 20 megahertz to 15 MHz to encourage fairer competition in Thailand. But the reserve price for a 5 MHz block of 3G mobile spectrum on the 2100-MHz band would remain unchanged at 4.5 billion baht.

On July 20, the NBTC held the first public hearing on the draft of the 2.1-gigahertz spectrum licensing terms and conditions. It plans to hold a 3G auction in October. Under the current draft, the auction will offer nine slots on the spectrum, each containing 5 MHz of bandwidth.

The event will mark simultaneous ascending-bid auctions. Each participant can gather a maximum bandwidth of 20 MHz.

The reduction of the spectrum cap will ease the problem of market dominance and allow small bidders to participate. Spectrum cap reduction would have nothing to do with the planned reserve price for the auction.

Three major mobile operators, TrueMove in particular, opposed the 4.5-billion-baht reserve price for a 5-MHz bandwidth slot, claiming that it was too high.

They urged the NBTC to adjust the price and ease some strict licensing conditions to encourage the winners to invest more in their 3G network rollouts.

Settapong Malisuwan, the NBTC’s telecom chairman, said the committee will conclude a final draft of 3G auction information memorandum next week, and then submit it to the NBTC board for approval on Aug 22.

The NBTC expects 3G IM will be published in the Royal Gazette this month.

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