Thailand’s AIS, DTAC to compete in US$3.4 billion spectrum auction

Norway’s Telenor chief executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas speaks during a news conference in New Delhi, November 2012. (Reuters pic)

BANGKOK: Thailand’s largest mobile operator Advanced Info Service Pcl and third-ranked Total Access Communication Pcl (DTAC) said on Wednesday they would participate in the network spectrum auction later this month.

The decision to participate in the auction for the 1800 MHz frequency band is due to future growth potential in the telecommunication sector, AIS said in a statement during midday trading break.

DTAC, which is 43% owned by Norway’s Telenor Group , decided to participate in the 1800 megahertz (MHz) spectrum tender after auction terms were revised to be more flexible, Chief Executive Officer Lars Norling said.

DTAC shares jumped as much as 15% on the announcement, their biggest percentage gain since Dec. 28, 2017.

AIS, 23% owned by Singapore’s SingTel, and DTAC will sit out the 900 MHz bid, they said separately.

Rival True Corp Pcl said on Tuesday it would not take part in the auctions.

True Corp shares were trading 3% higher on Wednesday.

Regulator National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) had scrapped a previous tender in June after three Thai mobile operators sat out the auctions citing onerous terms.

The NBTC will put up nine 5-MHz licences under the 1800 MHz spectrum auction set for August 19 at a reserve price of US$375.9 million (12.49 billion baht) each, representing a total of about US$3.4 billion.

One 5-MHz license under the 900 MHz spectrum will be auctioned for 37.99 billion baht on August 18.

The auctions are seeking to raise a total of 150.36 billion baht.

An operator can hold up to four 1800 MHz licences with a lifetime span of 15 years each.

AIS and DTAC did not specify how many licences they would pursue.