Thai operators shell out for 5G spectrum

Thai operators shell out for 5G spectrum

Thailand’s latest spectrum auction generated over $3.2 billion, far surpassing the government’s original expectations.

Frequencies were available in the 700MHz, 2600MHz and 26GHz bands, with only one block – 100MHz of 26GHz spectrum – going unsold. In January this year, Thailand’s government cleared state-owned operators TOT and CAT to bid in the auction, prompting regulator NBTC (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission) to increase its projected earnings.

Five participants bid on the 5G-ready spectrum, with AIS proving itself the biggest spender by bagging 23 of the 49 licences.

The market leader shelled out THB42.1 billion to claim 5MHz of 700MHz spectrum, 100MHz in the 2600MHz band, and 1200MHz of 26GHz spectrum. It would likely have acquired more had it not been restricted by caps on bids in the 2600MHz and 26GHz bands (of 100MHz and 1200MHz respectively).

Second placed True Move spent THB21.45 billion to acquire 90MHz of spectrum in the 2600MHz band, along with 800MHz of 26GHz spectrum.

Meanwhile state-owned CAT Telecom spent THB34.3 billion for two of the three available 5MHz blocks in the 700MHz band. The operator’s president Sappachai Huwanan noted that this lower frequency would allow it to boost capacity and increase its 4G and 5G coverage. CAT’s concession for 850MHz spectrum is due to expire in 2025, so the win is of particular importance for the operator.

Fellow state-owned operator TOT spent THB1.8 billion on 400MHz of 26GHz spectrum, while dtac acquired 200MHz of spectrum in the same band for THB910 million. The private operator’s CEO Sharad Mehrotra noted that the bid granted dtac “access to low-, mid- and high-band spectrum to provide our customers with the best data experience in the future”.

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