By Chayut Setboonsarng
BANGKOK, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Thailand’s telecoms regulator closed bidding on Sunday at 25 billion baht ($753.9 million) for two licenses under a 1800 MHz spectrum for 3G and 4G service, and raised concerns about plans for next generation 5G in the country.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) had opened nine licences on the spectrum for bidding. Thailand’s Advance Info Service and Total Access Communication PCL were the only bidders on Sunday.
AIS took the first, 1740-1745-MHz license to be used with the 1835-1840-MHz band, while DTAC took the second, 1745-1750-MHz license, to be used with the 1840-1845-MHz band, the regulator said.
The final bidding price per license was 12.5 billion baht.
“There were two bidders in this auction. The remaining spectrum will be put up for auction later after the board’s consideration,” NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith told reporters after bidding closed.
Most analysts had expected operators to bid for one to two licenses at the NBTC auction.
The regulator has said it expected the commercial launch of 5G in Thailand in 2020, but Takorn said on Sunday he had some concerns after the auction.
“We are concerned that there isn’t enough frequency to use for our goal of 5G use by 2020 in Thailand,” he told reporters.
An operator can hold up to four 1800 MHz licenses with a lifetime span of 15 years each.
Thailand’s second largest mobile operator, True Corporation Pcl, did not take part in the auction. (Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng Additional reporting by Wirat Buranakanokthanasan Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre Editing by Darren Schuettler)