Thailand’s auction of third-generation mobile phone licences could be delayed yet again by at least one month from next February, a regulatory official said on Thursday, citing the need to clarify legal issues. Telecom share prices fell on news of this latest delay and at least one broker downgraded the sector.

“It’s possible that the auction will be delayed from what we expected, February,” Settaporn Kusripitak, one of the members of the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC), told reporters.

Settaporn said the NTC would send a letter to the Council of State next week to ask whether the NTC had the authority to hold the auction after questions raised by politicians and state telecom companies.

3G auction in Thailand is still facing serious hurdles
3G auction in Thailand is still facing serious hurdles

The selection of four new NTC members after recent resignations was another problem, he added.

Licensing is seen as a key step in reforming the $4.7 billion sector because companies will pay licence fees instead of giving a portion of their revenue to state-owned firms for the right to operate networks they built themselves, as is the case now.

Thailand has been struggling with telecoms deregulation since before the 1997-1998 Asian economic crisis.

via UPDATE 1-Thai 3G auction may be delayed yet again -regulator | Reuters.

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