AIS, DTAC True confirmed as 3G Thailand bidders

The confirmation of telcos bidding for 3G licenses in Thailand threw up no surprises with the ‘big three’ AIS, DTAC and True – all of which are 2G license holders – submitting paperwork in advance of the September 20 planned auction.

Despite much talk of international interest, the auctions will not be contested by any new entrants which is likely to keep bids low, so says the Bangkok Post:

The absence of an international bidder is likely to ensure the bidding will be conservative and winning bids lower than expected.

According to Reuters another, as yet unnamed, applicant lodged a bid which was subsequently rejected by the National Telecommunications Committee (NTC):

Thailand’s telecoms regulator said on Monday it had rejected an application from one bidder to join an auction for third-generation mobile licences, leaving only the top three telecoms operators in the running.

“There are four companies submitting applications today. After preliminary examination, three bidders have complete documents to join the auction,” Natee Sukonrat, a member of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), told reporters.

While a further news article reveals another Thai teclco, Samart, changed its mind over bidding and will instead plan a MVNO offering:

“We chose the full MVNO plan over the 3G auction by considering the value of investment, risk and future opportunity,” Chief Executive Watchai Vilailuck said in a statement.

The line-up is of little surprise, but it will be interesting to see the identity of the fourth applicant whose bid was rejected at the preliminary stage.

The real market competition is expected to come in the form of MVNOs, as Samart is planning, who will rent ‘spare’ 3G spectrum (space) from the telecoms companies that are awarded it, negating the hefty financial outlay and risk whilst allowing them to be competitive and flexible with their offerings.

Markets like the UK – despite being less prepay-centric – are a barometer for Thailand, with the introduction of MVNOs triggering additional market competition in terms of service and value for money too. With number portability likely to be in place too, the average Thai mobile consumer will enjoy considerably more choice and freedom than is currently in the market today.