Thailand’s government has ordered the National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to hold a new 900MHz licence auction as soon as possible, potentially on 22 May, bringing forward the previous mooted date of 24 June, the Bangkok Post reports. Furthermore, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kreangam said that the state will allow all operators to participate except Jas Mobile (which failed to pay for the 900MHz spectrum it won in December’s auction); this means that True Corp – the winner of the other 900MHz block in December – will be allowed to bid for the second concession, despite the NBTC recently voting to ban True from the re-auction. ‘The re-auction will occur as soon as possible, which could be on 22 May instead of 24 June, and the government may use its powers under Section 44 of the interim constitution to make it happen,’ said Wissanu. The state has rejected proposals by Advanced Info Service (AIS), which was outbid in December, to simply purchase the 900MHz spectrum without auction.
Meanwhile, True says it is ready to fully launch nationwide 2G 900MHz services this Thursday, 14 April – the date that AIS is currently scheduled to switch off its own GSM-900 service. As reported by The Nation, True is eyeing the remaining 900MHz users of AIS who are still using 2G phones to make voice calls. Suphachai Chearavanont, True’s CEO said yesterday that True’s 2G service will use the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands that True won licences for in December (which it is largely using for 4G LTE expansion). AIS has agreed a deal with its other main rival DTAC to continue serving the majority of its 2G-only device users via roaming on DTAC’s 1800MHz network, but a stubborn portion of 900MHz-only handset user remain. AIS’ 900MHz concession expired last September, but it has continued to utilise the band under a serious of extensions – the latest expiring on 14 April, although it is lobbying for further leeway.