BANGKOK, June 29 Thailand's telecommunications
regulator said on Monday the auction of long-awaited
third-generation (3G) mobile service licences might be held in
January 2010, a little later than envisaged.
The exact timing would depend on the selection of new board
members at the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC),
Secretary-General Suranan Wongvithayakamjorn told reporters in
an industry seminar.
"The process should start from the third quarter of this
year and the auction may happen in January," he said, adding
the NTC would select new board members in August.
Last week, NTC Chairman Choochart Promphrasid told Reuters
the auction would be as early as October and that the change in
the regulator's board members would not derail its plan to
liberalise the highly regulated sector. [ID:nBKK548216]
Operators said delaying for a few months should not affect
their plans for the commercial launch of 3G services, expected
in late 2010.
"It should take around six to seven months to install
equipment," said Athueck Asvanund, vice chairman of True Corp
(TRUE.BK), major shareholder of Thailand's third largest mobile
operator, True Move.
The 3G licences, which would enable operators to tap new
revenue through music, video, picture and data services, have
been delayed for several years by political obstacles.
Thai telecoms operators want to receive 3G licences on the
new 2.1 GHz spectrum, which analysts said should help reduce
regulatory costs for operators.
The top two mobile operators are Advanced Info Service
ADVA.BK (AIS) and Total Access Communication (DTAC.BK)
The 3G licensing is a key step in reforming the sector
because operators will pay licence fees instead of handing over
a portion of their revenue to two state-owned firms for the
right to operate networks they have built and paid for
(Reporting by Pisit Changplayngam; Writing by Khettiya
Jittapong; Editing by Alan Raybould)