Thai operators U-turn on 700MHz reluctance

Thai operators U-turn on 700MHz reluctance

AIS, dtac and True Move have all registered to bid in Thailand’s much-delayed 700MHz spectrum auction.

The applications by the three private operators are an about-face, with all three suggesting that they would shun the bidding due to the THB17.6 billion ($562 million) reserve price, which they consider too high. This lack of interest from operators has resulted in regulator NBTC (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission) postponing the auction several times.

The turnaround is likely a result of all three operators choosing to extend the terms of the licence repayments for their 900MHz spectrum. When offered this option last month, all three accepted without committing to bid in the 700MHz auction – despite this being a condition of the extension.

The auction will see two 10MHz blocks available for bidding, with the 15 year licences valid from 1st October 2020. True Move noted that it decided to bid in order to “maintain a leading position in mobile business service and restructure the payment schedule for the 900MHz frequency spectrum licences”.

Dtac CEO Alexandra Reich said that acquiring more spectrum would increase the operator’s “total bandwidth up to 130MHz (including 2300MHz in partnership with TOT).” She noted that the “investment will provide significant benefits to all stakeholders as the 700MHz spectrum can be used for 5G”.

However, Reich also cautioned: “Thailand is moving towards a full digital society, in which the readiness of 5G is a key element. Therefore, a clear spectrum roadmap is critical to the industry because it helps us create effective long-term investment plans to build infrastructure that can help boost the country’s economy.”

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