With uncertainty prevailing over the future of 3G radio spectrum the Thai government has acted to press forward. The Nation reports that yesterday the Telecommunications Organization of Thailand (TOT) has been granted permission to extend their current 3G service to cover the entire country. TOT said a search for financing for the build-out will begin immediately.
With disarray and delay dominating the day in Thailand’s Mobiles businesses it’s time for some out-of-the-box thinking. Various sources report that it could take Thai courts, legislators and regulators 2 years or more to sort out the current uncertainty concerning 3G spectrum.
This additional time must be viewed in the context that the first 3G networks deployed around 10 years ago and 3G has been the global standard for at least 6 or 7 years already. Launching a 3G network now, in 2010, would be a stunningly booring accomplishment that would hardly be noticed by the rest of the world. Such an announcement is likely to be lost among a sea of 4G launches and services. Thailand risks becoming the joke of the world’s media for being so late to the 3G party.
The Nation reports that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has responded to Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) “you have no authority to auction 3G spectrum” lawsuit with a defiant “yes we do!”
You might recall that CAT last week filed an injunction with the Supreme Administrative Court to prevent the NTC from auctioning 3G spectrum to incumbent mobile operators AIS, DTAC and True Move. The Court granted that injunction on the basis of CAT’s claim that the 2007 constitution granted authority to allocate spectrum to a new, yet-to-be-created regulator called the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).
As Bangkok Beach Telecom reported Monday, the attempts to delay the Thai 3G auctions has been successful. The Supreme Administrative Court Friday ruled that the complaint filed by Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) has merit and the auction must be delayed until the Court can render a final decision. The Court agreed to announce that decision Monday morning, the same day of the planned auctions, 20 September. The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the body who had planned to hold the auction Monday, said that even a favorable ruling Monday, a ruling which would allow the auction to proceed as planned, would still trigger a delay.
The region’s media are reporting that the Thai Administrative Court has agreed to hear a motion by the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) to postpone the upcoming spectrum auctions. Bangkok Post, Nation Multimedia, TelecomAsia and others have details of the story. CAT contends the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) lacks the authority to hold the auction. The court declined to postpone the auction, but said NTC testimony on the matter would be heard prior to the planned auctions date next Monday, 20 September.