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NBTC to go ahead with spectrum auctions this year

THE National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission will press ahead with its planned auction of 1,800MHz and 900MHz spectrum licences this year in the belief it will help shore up the sagging economy.

"The Telecom Committee will go ahead with every project, especially the plan to auction both 1,800MHz and 900MHz licences," Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the committee, said last week.

The policy has also been given the blessing of the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council, he said. The coup makes no difference at all on the planned auction.

About Bt100 billion would be paid upfront by the bid winners for the licences alone and more investment would follow.

Many local and foreign investors have asked for the auction details. The NBTC will auction two 1,800MHz licences in August and two 900MHz licences in November.

Fitch Ratings expects to revise down its forecast of 2.5-per-cent growth for the economy on the back of the continuing political uncertainty and weak first-quarter data showing that the economy contracted by 0.6 per cent on year.

The National Economic and Social Development Board recently lowered its 2014 GDP growth forecast to 1.5-2.5 per cent from 3-4 per cent that it made in February.

Wichian Mektrakarn, CEO of Advanced Info Service (AIS), also said the licensing would be good for the economy. The NBTC is expected to see upfront licence payments of at least Bt50 billion for the licences.

AIS is keen to bid for both 1,800MHz and 900MHz licences and wants to acquire at least 20MHz bandwidth to enhance its wireless broadband business.

AIS is using the 900MHz frequency under a concession from TOT that expires next year. Its subsidiary Advanced Wireless Network is one of the three 2.1GHz spectrum licence holders.

AIS wants more airspace to serve its 42 million customers.

AIS might consider adjusting its revenue growth guidance again in the middle of the year.

"Our growth goes hand-in-hand with GDP. This year we expect to see 6-8-per-cent revenue growth, the same as last year, if GDP growth is at 4 per cent. If GDP is changed, we'll adjust our revenue forecast again," he said.

In its recent filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand, AIS said it was keeping its 2014 revenue growth target at 6-8 per cent. It expects growth to pick up in the second half of this year, underpinned by its decent 3G-network quality and coverage.


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