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Thailand’s 3G still plagued with uncertainties and legal challenges

With 3G granted to state monopoly, private companies will now have to approach TOT and CAT if they want to take part in this new, lucrative market, without clear and transparent rules

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Telecom executives say that next year will be a chaotic time for the industry, with many uncertainties, conditions that they say are unfair, and looming legal challenges.

These stem from the absence of the 3G-2.1GHz spectrum licences, the effect of the new frequency allocation law, which kicked started the formation of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission NBTC, and the unsolved cases of the allegedly unlawful concession amendments.

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Telecom operators have been haunted with the cases of the allegedly unlawful concession amendments.

In effect, Thailand failed to witness huge investment on 3G infrastructure, estimated to value between Bt50 billion to Bt100 billion over a three-year course. The Kingdom is now pinning its hopes on better broadband services from state-owned agencies – CAT Telecom and TOT – which are busily building up their capacity on existing spectrum bands.

via Chaos and uncertainty lie ahead in 2011.

In the end, the botched 3G auction seemed to have been just a convenient, but costly, way to get rid of any private or foreign competitors to enter the game. The cabinet finally approved TOT PCL’s planned 19.98 billion baht ($653.3 million) investment in a 3G network. According to the Cabinet resolution, the Finance Ministry will not guarantee any loan for the project, while TOT will set up a new subsidiary to handle investment in partnership with the private sector. TOT is expected to start the bid to procure the network within three months.

With 3G granted to state monopoly, private companies will now have to approach TOT and CAT if they want to take part in this new, lucrative market, without clear and transparent rules

The long-delayed 3G service license auction has made Thailand among the last countries in Southeast Asia to fully deploy advanced wireless technology. The process has repeatedly been delayed due mainly to the absence of an independent body to regulate broadcasting frequencies, as well as changes in state administrations.

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