Thai officials warn that anyone who opposes a new plan for auctioning 3G licenses will be considered an enemy of the state and unpatriotic.
Sethapong Malisuwan, a commissioner with regulator the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, issued the warning as he announced the licenses will be sold under a slot demand and supply-based model, rather than the n-1 formula previously proposed. He also asked the public to join him in praying for a successful auction.
Earlier, fellow commissioner Suthipol Thaweechaikarn said all the operators bidding would be called in to swear they would not use any loophole to stop the auction. He also branded anyone trying to halt the auction unpatriotic.
The regulator proposes breaking the auction into nine 5 MHz slots instead of three 15 MHz licenses as previously proposed. Each bidder would declare how many slots they wanted. For instance, with four vendors each wanting 15 MHz that would mean 12 slots in demand against the 9 available. The price of every slot would then go up and up until one of the bidders abandons a slot. The price would continue to rise again until there is demand for only 9 slots left among however many bidders there are.
The final system will be finalized by the end of April and the starting price will be announced by the end of May. Each operator would be limited to 15 or perhaps 20 MHz and a minimum of 5 MHz.
Sethapong said that it was unclear if the price would be higher or lower than the estimates in an aborted 2010 bid. He said that 2.1-GHz may not be the most valuable spectrum now as 1800-MHz LTE is more enticing to many operators.
He said that the expiring 25-MHz (12.5-MHz by TrueMove and 12.5-MHz by DPC, an AIS subsidiary) should be auctioned off six months before the concessions expire in September 2013.
Sethapong also said that the auction would be conducted on a tight budget of between 30 million baht (€736,668) to 40 million baht.