Thailand has gotten $1.36 billion in bids for spectrum in an auction that paves the way for the nation’s new 3G mobile service.
Reuters News Agency reported that Thailand's top three telecoms companies bid the baht equivalent of $1.36 billion on Tuesday.
Up for grabs are shares of the 45 MHz of bandwidth on the 2.1-gigahertz band, according to the Bangkok Post.
The minimum price for each five MHz block was $146 million, the BBC said. Nine blocks will be auctioned off.
The names of the winning bidders are expected to be released in a few days. Meanwhile, qualified bidders were identified in the media as Advanced Info Service, Total Access Communication Pcl (TAC), and True Corp. The three companies were likely to get a block each, according to a report carried on MobilityTechzone.
Each mobile network provider that wins a bid can only own 15MHz, or three blocks of spectrum, according to the BBC.
Bangkok, Thailand. Image via Shutterstock
There have been many delays in bringing 3G service to Thailand, but the auction is a sign that progress is moving forward.
An additional auction for 4G services is planned for 2013, according to news reports.
The companies will provide 3G coverage to half of the Thai population in two years and extend it to 80 percent of the population within four years, under the rules of the auction process.
Smartphones are already popular in Thailand, so 3G stands to be popular among Thai consumers.
"3G will promote growth not only amongst telecom operators, but across different industry sectors, including small and medium enterprises," Monsinee Keeratikrainon, a Frost & Sullivan analyst, told the BBC.
Last week, Telecom analyst Anuparp Thiralarp and the Consumer Rights Protection Association tried to block the auction with litigation, MobilityTechzone said. They claimed the public is not properly benefiting from the auction.
But the process went ahead, anyway. Takorn Tantasit, secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, the government regulator, told Reuters that the auction made Tuesday an “historic day.”
Edited by Braden Becker