CAT drops out of Thai 4G auctions

Thai operator CAT Telecom has dropped out of the country’s delayed 4G auctions.

After it failed to secure a foreign business partner – a requisite for the operator to lodge a bid – the state-owned firm elected to exit the race. It was also deterred by the requirements of disclosing its budget and receiving cabinet approval prior to the auctions.

The operator’s acting president Sanpachai Huvanandana dismissed these requirements as “impractical”, saying: “other bidders would know our maximum bid. It’s barring us from competing in an auction.”

CAT was discussing potential partnerships with Japanese operator NTT Docomo and Korean SK Telecom, but the continued delays and instability surrounding the auctions eventually derailed the talks.

Five other operators will take part in the auctions – the three leading firms AIS, True Move and dtac, plus newcomer Jasmine International and state-owned TOT. Jasmine owns a major fixed broadband operator in the country, and is currently seeking a foreign firm to provide it with further funding for the bid.

The auctions will enable companies to bid for 20MHz of 900MHz spectrum and 30MHz of 1.8GHz spectrum. Reserve prices for both bands have been increased following complaints from consumer groups and academics. The auctions have been continually pushed back following the military coup in May 2014.

CAT may return to the 4G arena, as it has made clear its interest in retaining 20MHz of 1.8GHz spectrum after its concession with dtac expires in 2018. 

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