Thursday, April 02, 2020

Junta orders telecom auction

Apr 12. 2016
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AS EXPECTED, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) yesterday officially ordered the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to hold a new auction on May 27 for a licence on the 900-spectrum recently forfeited by Jas Mobile Broadb

It had been announced on Monday that the junta would invoke its special power under Article 44 of the interim charter to execute the order on the matter as requested by the NBTC. The order was signed yesterday by NCPO leader General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is also prime minister.

The junta also ordered the NBTC to extend further the period Advanced Info Service (AIS) has to shut down the second-generation cellular service it operates on 900MHz to June 30 or the date the NBTC awards the 900MHz licence to the winning bidder, whichever comes first.

 The previous deadline was April 14.

It is the first time the junta has invoked the special power to intervene in the telecom industry.

AIS’s share price yesterday inched up 0.66 per cent to close at Bt152.50, while that of Total Access Communication (DTAC) rose 0.74 per cent to close at Bt34. True’s share price soared 3.45 per cent to close at Bt7.50, and Jas surged 6.95 per cent to close at Bt4.

Under the order, the NBTC will auction the 900MHz licence (a pair of bands from 895-905MHz and 940-950MHz) forfeited by Jas. Any companies can join in the auction, except Jas. The bid starts at Bt75.654 billion, the final price quoted by Jas to win this band in the previous auction last December.

Qualified bidders will have to place a guarantee of Bt3.783 billion to enter the auction.

If need be and subject to NCPO approval, the NBTC telecom committee can add more conditions to ensure fair bidding and protect the national interest.

The term of the 900MHz licence the NBTC has already issued to TrueMove H Universal Communication (TUC) will end on the same date as the licence it will put up for auction next month. The telecom committee will specify later when the TUC licence term expires. Originally it was to end on March 15, 2031.

Moreover, according to the order, the new auction will not affect the right of relevant state agencies to claim compensation for damages arising from the need to call the new bid.

The NBTC telecom committee is examining how to claim possible compensation from Jas for its failure to pay the initial instalment |of the upfront licence fee by the deadline of March 21, which obliged the commission to hold the new |auction.

A telecom analyst said the starting bid of Bt75.654 billion meant there is no price difference the watchdog could claim from Jas for its dropping of the licence.

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