NBTC gears up for 5G auc­tion

Bid­ders warned that of­fers must be vi­able


Thai­land is set to hold its 5G auc­tion to­mor­row with the tele­com reg­u­la­tor warn­ing bid­ders to be re­al­is­tic with their of­fers as the gov­ern­ment can no longer in­ter­vene to help should their business mod­els not prove vi­able.

Takorn Tan­t­a­sith, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Na­tional Broad­cast­ing and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion (NBTC), said the NBTC is fully pre­pared for the elec­tronic auc­tion, which will start at 9.30am and is ex­pected to fin­ish by 9pm on Sun­day.

The agency has or­gan­ised six rooms for the five qual­i­fied bid­ders. The ex­tra one is in case of an un­ex­pected hic­cup with one of the other five. The sec­re­tary-gen­eral led the press to visit the venue to be used for the his­toric auc­tion at NBTC head­quar­ters yes­ter­day.

The bid­ders are Ad­vanced Info Ser­vice (AIS), True Move H Uni­ver­sal Com­mu­ni­ca­tion (TUC), To­tal Ac­cess Com­mu­ni­ca­tion (DTAC), TOT Plc and CAT Tele­com Plc.

The 700MHz and 2600MHz fre­quency ranges will be con­tested by AIS, TUC and CAT.

All but CAT will vie for the 26-gi­ga­hertz range. No com­pany has reg­is­tered to bid for the 1800MHz range.

“I want to re­it­er­ate to the bid­ders that they should be pru­dent in sub­mit­ting bid­ding prices. Un­like in the past, they will not have Sec­tion 44 to help any­more,” said Mr Takorn.

The sec­re­tary-gen­eral said the tele­com bid­ders should learn from the auc­tions of dig­i­tal TV li­cences in 2013 and 4G li­cences from 2015 on­wards when the ref­er­ence price for dig­i­tal TV and the 900MHz spec­trums were set at 10 bil­lion baht for each li­cence but bids ex­ceeded 50 bil­lion baht for dig­i­tal TV and 70 bil­lion baht for the 4G spec­trum.

In April last year, the now-de­funct Na­tional Council for Peace and Order, used its spe­cial pow­ers un­der the in­terim char­ter’s Sec­tion 44 to bail out dig­i­tal TV oper­a­tors and de­lay pay­ments for three 4G li­cence oper­a­tors for an­other five years.

On the bid­ding day, Mr Takorn said bid­ders will draw for auc­tion rooms at 8.15am and the first auc­tion will start with the 700MHz spec­trum at 9.30am.

He said the “clock auc­tion” sys­tem will be used for the 5G auc­tion for the first time in the coun­try.

The auc­tion will pro­ceed on a round-by-round ba­sis, where prod­ucts are split into smaller sets and they can open auc­tions at the same time.

Mr Takorn ear­lier es­ti­mated the com­bined win­ning prices in the auc­tion could sur­pass 70 bil­lion baht while over­all 5G net­work in­vest­ment could reach 130 bil­lion baht this year and 200 bil­lion in 2021.


Takorn Tan­t­a­sith, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Na­tional Broad­cast­ing and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion, third from left, briefs jour­nal­ists on the 5G spec­trum li­cence auc­tion tak­ing place to­mor­row.

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