Thailand’s telecoms regulator set a reserve price on Monday for an auction of 3G mobile-phone licences, a crucial step towards long-delayed reforms in the sector.
The reserve price, the minimum amount Thailand expects to receive from each of nine licences for 5MHz bandwidth, will start at 4.5 billion baht ($142 million), said Settapong Malisuwan, chair of the regulator’s subcommittee in charge of telecoms.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) has said it would hold an auction in October for new 2.1 GHz spectrum licences with 15-year terms.
The auction price is subject to approval from the NBTC board on Wednesday before a public hearing to be held in July.
The top three telecoms operators in Thailand, whose current contracts expire in the next few years, are keen to join the auction.
These are market leader Advanced Info Service, partly owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, second-ranked Total Access Communication Pcl, which is controlled by Norway’s Telenor, and number three True Corp.
The 3G licensing is a crucial step in reforming the $6.8 billion sector and will dramatically change the way operators pay fees to the government. It will also allow operators to tap additional revenue from mobile data in a country of around 67 million people where many have more than one mobile phone.