Three operators qualified for 3G bid Tuesday

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BANGKOK, Oct 9 – Thailand’s three major mobile operators were today named qualified bidders for next Tuesday’s auction of third-generation (3G) wireless licences, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) announced.

The three private operators are Advanced Info Service (AIS), DTAC and True Move.

NBTC deputy chairman Settapong Malisuwan said the minimum auction price of Bt4.5 billion for the 2100 megahertz bandwidth to use with the 3G technology was suitable, adding that it has yet to be seen next week if the bidding competition will be intense.

NBTC commissioner Prasert Silpipat said the auction will be considered successful even if the bid winner offers the same or slightly higher than the fixed minimum price.

It will be a setback for Thailand if the 3G auction fails to take place as telecommunication infrastructure is vital to the country’s economic and social development given the launch of ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.

“Dissidents have the right to petition against the auction. We assure that the auction has been carefully planned with transparency. It’s impossible that 65 million people agree with (all) regulations set by the NBTC,” he said.

Col Settapong said after Tuesday’s auction, the NBTC will issue the country’s first 3G licences and winning operators are expected to launch full services in March.

It should be expanded nationwide by 2015, he added.