Thai regulator orders price cuts before 3G launches

Thailand’s regulator has lain down the gauntlet for the three 3G licence winners by demanding that they cut tariffs for voice and data by as much as 20% before they can launch services on their newly-obtained spectrum.

The NBTC’s declaration of this “statement of intention” can be interpreted as an attempt to assuage fears that private operators would have an unfair advantage following the country’s recent 3G auctions. The licensing process has come under fire as it raised THB41.7 billion (US$1.36 billion), which was less than expected, barely surpassing the reserve price.

The regulator noted that the 20% would save consumers up to THB73.1 billion each year over the licences’ 15-year validity period. Thakorn Tantasit, secretary-general of the NBTC, noted that the price reductions would be sustainable as 3G would drive competition and reduce operating costs.

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