Court injunction sought to suspend 3G telecoms bids

Tuesday, 16 October 2012 By  MCOT

BANGKOK, Oct 15 - The Green Politics group petitioned Thailand’s Administrative Court Monday seeking an injunction to suspend tomorrow’s auction of third-generation (3G) 2.1 gigahertz wireless licenses by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

Green Politics coordinator Suriyasai Katasila said the auction should be suspended until NBTC amends some regulations and pre-auction conditions for the people’s maximum benefit.

Mr Suriyasai said consultants from Chulalongkorn University recommended a reserve price of Bt6.44 billion per slot but NBTC set the reserve price at 2.1-gigahertz spectrum at Bt4.5 billion which he said was too low.

NBTC failed to protect the public interest by not following the Chulalongkorn University recommendation, he said.

The too low reserved price would cost the public more than Bt18 billion, he claimed.

There are three bidders--Advanced Info Service (AIS), DTAC and True Move--and nine spectrum slots available, so that each company can secure up to three slots.

He said that NBTC should amend its terms and conditions as well as the starting bidding price before the auction on Tuesday for the people’s maximum benefit.

Earlier, Anuparp Tiralarp, an independent academic and former president of the Thailand Telecommunication Management Academy, and a consumer-protection group filed petitions with the court seeking an injunction against the auction.

Mr Suriyasai said he did not intend to obstruct the auction but he doubted whether public and the nation would get the benefit and merely wanted the NBTC to act for consumers’ ultimate benefit before starting the auction process.

The long-delayed 3G telecom licence auction was suspended once about two years ago, when the Administrative Court issued a last-minute injunction citing the unconstitutionality of the bidding process.The court said the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) -- the NBTC's predecessor -- was not empowered under the Constitution to hold the auction.

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