A total of ten companies from five groups have so far picked up application forms for Thailand’s upcoming 3G 2100MHz mobile licence auction scheduled for next month, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) disclosed, although only three bids from the existing private sector cellular network operators are expected. As reported by The Nation newspaper, three of the firms are part of the Advanced Info Service (AIS) group – the country’s leading cellco by subscribers – namely AIS itself, Advanced Wireless Network and Advanced Mobile Broadband. Second- and third-placed players Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Corp also took multiple copies of the 3G documents via their respective group units DTAC Internet Network and DTAC Broadband; and True Move, Real Future and Real Move. Two other entities were issued application forms: Cable Thai Holding (CTH) – a cable TV operator owned by Wichai Thongtaeng, a former lawyer for deposed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra – and ACT Mobile, a subsidiary of state-owned telco TOT (currently Thailand’s sole owner of 2100MHz frequencies). However, both CTH and ACT reportedly acquired the documentation merely for observation as interested parties, rather than intending to bid.
All interested companies can obtain application forms until 27 September, but must submit their applications on 28 September, leave a THB1.35 billion (USD44 million) guarantee and pay a THB500,000 application fee. NBTC will announce the qualified bidders on 10 October, and says the auction will open on 16 October. The commission plans to announce the winners on 22 October.