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Thailand Seeks To End Mobile Phone Concessions By YearEnd

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BANGKOK (Dow Jones)–Thailand’s economic ministers Monday agreed to push ahead with a plan to end all existing mobile phone concessions by the end of the year to convert them into telecom licenses for second generation services.

However, the government’s attempt to ensure fair competition in the industry is not expected to derail a plan by the industry regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission, to hold an auction in September to issue up to three new licenses for the 2.1 gigahertz spectrum, allowing mobile phone operators to offer 3G services that could be upgraded to 3.9G.

“It’s two separate issues. I don’t think it (the government’s move) would affect our (auction) timeline,” Commissioner Natee Sukonrat told Dow Jones Newswires.

The economic ministers have agreed to establish a special committee–comprising representatives from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and industry experts– to
consider the most practical way to pursue the conversion, and will report to the cabinet within one month, Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij told reporters.

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