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Thailand's Finance Ministry Requests Probe on 3G Auction

10/19/2012 | 08:45am US/Eastern

BANGKOK--Thailand's finance ministry has asked the National Anti-Corruption Commission to launch a probe of the country's telecommunications regulator to investigate allegations of corruption in handling an auction of nine third-generation mobile telephony bandwith slots, a ministry official said Friday.

Deputy Permanent Secretary for Finance Supa Piyajitti noted that bidders in Tuesday's auction of 3G licenses paid either the reserve price or slightly above the reserve rate, raising concerns over fair play.

Subsidiaries of Total Access Communication PCL (>> Total Access Communication PCL) and True Move won three bandwidth slots each with bids that equalled the reserve level of 4.5 billion baht per five-megahertz frequency band, while a subsidiary of Advanced Info Service PCL (ADVANC.TH), Thailand's largest mobile phone operator, paid THB14.63 billion for 15 MHz of bandwidth--accounting for the remaining three slots, each of 5 MHz.

Ahead of the auction, several public interest groups had asked the regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, to tighten the auction regulations, foreseeing an uncompetitive result, she said.

Price competition was non-existent, as each bidder was allowed a maximum of three slots and there were only three bidders for the nine slots, she noted.

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