While the rest of the world prepares for fifth-generation telecommunications, Thailand once again is playing catch up.
Much as the third-generation, or 3G, service came online about five years after it was adopted elsewhere, 4G service will be delayed another year after the ruling junta canceled next month’s auction of spectrum licenses.
“The postponement is to ensure that things will go smoothly and transparently and that will help protect the public,” the military announced in its weekly address.
As a result, Thailand’s telecommunications sector, which accounts for a tenth of the economy, will potentially lose billions of dollars. The military approved the auction in May, but said it would be suspended a month later, Bangkok Post reported.
The big three carriers ‒ AIS, DTAC and True ‒ were counting on the newer, faster technology to enable more services and increase their revenues, which have fallen during the turmoil of the past few months. About THB100 billion in investment was expected to follow.
State coffers stood to benefit as well. More than THB40 billion in licensing revenue was expected from the auction, according to The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission.
Chief telecom regulator Takorn Tantasit said Friday that the current licences for 2G services would be extended to avoid disrupting service.
4G services have been widely available outside of Thailand for three to four years.