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3G licences granting could bring $9.3 billion investment in Thailand

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The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) estimated that the granting of the three 3G licences would result in total investment of Bt300 billion in Thailand by related businesses during a 15year licence period.

NTC commissioner Natee Sukonrat said yesterday that each licence is expected to bring investments of between Bt50 billion to Bt100 billion during the period.

The NTC board yesterday approved the 3G licensing plan of its 3G committee.

The details will be publicised in the NTC home page next week for 15 days and the NTC will hold a public hearing on the plan on June 25.

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3G auction in Thailand is still facing serious hurdles. It has planned to launch the prequalification process of the applicants in August and call for the auction in September.

The board concluded that the NTC will auction three licences to use the 2.1GHz spectrum, each valid for 15 years, to develop 3G and beyond3G service. Each licence will feature the 15MHzspectrum bandwidth. The licence reserve price or the starting bid price is set at about Bt10 billion each.

Licence holders will be obliged to allocate 40 per cent of the network capacity for leasing to mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) for provision of the service. MVNOs are firms with no network and which lease the network of another party to provide the service.

via 3G licences will bring in Bt300 bn investment.

obile phones and iPhone 3G are available since nearly a year in Thailand, but the implementation of the third generation network, has been considerably delayed. Bureaucracy and pressure from the public operator TOT have managed to block the allocation of frequencies, once again postponed to spring 2010.

The mobile business is a highly political issue in Thailand because it is the mobile phone concession awarded to AIS (subsidiary of the holding company Shin Corp), who allowed Thaksin to make a fortune in a record time and subsequently become the most popular politician of the kingdom’s history. It is also the resale of Shin Corp to Singapore’s Temasek fund that was largely responsible for his downfall.

Kaneungjit Suriyathumrongkul, country manager of Qualcomm Thailand, said the new technology would help rural users who cannot connect to the Internet through landline telephones to fully access the web at high speed. The new wireless technology will open up more services to users and accelerate new access options to consumers, as well as open more vertical applications to mobile operators and software developers.

The service would also open new business model possibilities and could allow service providers who own their networks to offer vertical applications.

For Laurent Perche, responsible for Marketing Solution, Alcatel-Lucent (Thailand), 3G is indispensable to the image of Thailand.

“When a company wonders where it will locate its headquarters, telecommunications are a major factor. It’s like questioning the power supply! Today, broadband access is relatively limited. 3G, bringing more competition, would lower costs and better services. The kingdom wants the latest technology with a new airport, Skytrain. But if this continues, it will be the last country to have 3G. “

Both regulators and state and private telecom executives are dumbfounded by economic ministers’ decision to put brakes on the 3G auction process and TOT Plc’s 3G plan.

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