Five Thai operators cleared for spectrum auction

Five Thai operators cleared for spectrum auction

Thai regulator NBTC has cleared all five of the applications received for its upcoming spectrum auction, paving the way for a lucrative round of bidding.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has approved private operators AIS and True Move – along with state-owned CAT Telecom - to bid on 700MHz, 2.6GHz and 26GHz spectrum, with Dtac and TOT joining the bidding for the latter band. The auction is set for 16th February.

Last month, the government granted the state-owned CAT and TOT permission to bid in the auctions, which prompted the NBTC to revise its estimated earnings from $1.8 billion to $2.1 billion. All five operators have welcomed the auction, in a stark contrast to previous spectrum sales in the country.

Thailand’s last three spectrum auctions failed to generate much interest from operators, with just two 10MHz blocks of 1800MHz acquired in an August 2018 sale. While another seven blocks were available, operators were put off by the hefty THB12.48 billion ($400 million) reserve price.

A 900MHz sale scheduled for the same month was cancelled due to a lack of interest, with the government setting up a new 900MHz sale in October 2018 – although dtac was the sole bidder, acquiring a 10MHz block.

The last high-earning auction for Thailand’s government was its first 4G auction in late 2015, which brought in $2.25 billion. AIS and True Move each spent over $1 billion for 15MHz of spectrum in the 1800MHz band.

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