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NBTC set to defend terms, conditions

Sep 04. 2012
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By USANEE MONGKOLPORN
THE NATION

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has prepared a white paper to explain to the public the reasoning behind its terms and conditions for the auction of the long-awaited 2.1-gigahertz spectrum bands.

The NBTC has been concerned that some parties might mount a legal challenge against the terms and conditions. This follows rumours that some might ask the National Anti-Corruption Commission to probe whether the watchdog is promoting collusion among potential bidders for the spectrum.

The 2.1GHz spectrum will be used for third-generation wireless broadband service.

The NBTC is expected to announce late this week the guidelines for the “silent period” with which potential bidders have to comply to prevent any collusion.

Advanced Info Service (AIS) has already alerted its executives to avoid giving interviews about anything related to the bid as part of its self-imposed silent period.

So far only AIS and Total Access Communication (DTAC) and their subsidiaries have picked up the applications to join the auction. Interested bidders must submit the applications by September 28.

An NBTC source said the upcoming silent period might not be as stringent as the one imposed by its predecessor the National Telecommunications Commission while it was preparing to hold the spectrum auction in September 2010.

The NBTC will call for bids for nine spectrum slots, each containing 5 megahertz of bandwidth at a reserve price of Bt4.5 billion. Each bidder can bid for a maximum 15MHz. The auction will take place on either October 15 or 16.

The terms and conditions have raised concerns from academics that the three potential bidders – AIS, DTAC and True Corp – might collude to grab 15MHz bandwidth apiece in a low-competition contest. If this proved to be the case, the final prices achieved at the auction would at best be only a little higher than the reserve price.

However, the NBTC argues that the spectrum assignment stage of the auction will ensure there is competitive bidding. The assignment stage provides that bidders offering the highest quotes will be the first to select their desired spectrum ranges.

The NBTC set up four committees to handle the 2.1GHz spectrum auction. They are an auction preparation committee, a bidder pre-qualification committee, an auctioneer committee, and a panel examining whether there are any connections among the bidders.

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