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Thailand News: TDRI hammers 3G auction

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Thailand News: TDRI hammers 3G auction | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Lacklustre 3G bids slammed by TDRI
Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: As expected, Thailand’s first 2.1-gigahertz (GHz) spectrum auction yesterday turned out to be a less-than fiercely competitive affair, with the three highest bidders paying a combined 41,625 billion baht – less than 3 per cent above the reserve price – for the nine prized spectrum slots after seven rounds of bidding.

Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) president Somkiat Tangkitvanich yesterday slammed the auction outcome as costly for the state coffers and for taxpayers. He said the outcome was what he had expected: he cited a combined price for the nine slots totaling 41.650bn, only slightly higher than the combined reserve price of 40.5bn, or 4.5bn per 5-megahertz (MHz) bandwidth slot.

Following the finalizing of yesterday’s bidding, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is expected to grant the 15-year licenses to the three bidders in January.

NBTC telecom committee chairman Settapong Malisuwan said the commission is ready to deal with possible legal suits against the outcome and insisted that the NBTC proceeded with the auction with the country’s interests at heart.

The full market value of each slot is Bt6.4 billion, totaling 57.960bn for the nine slots, according to the evaluation by the NBTC’s reserve price panel, comprising a group of economics lecturers from Chulalongkorn University.

“Even though the auction means the Thai public will have a 3G-2.1GHz service available next year, this has cost the state coffers 16.335bn when compared to the full spectrum value. It’s like giving them [the bidders] a windfall,” Somkiat said.

Somkiat added that the biggest flaws in the auction were in its terms and conditions, which he said allowed three bidders to grab the maximum three slots each and which set a low reserve price, failing to promote strong competition. He wanted to know how the NBTC would take responsibility for the state’s loss, and urged related state agencies to investigate the auction.

NBTC commissioner Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn argued that critics focused solely on the per-slot spectrum price calculated by the NBTC reserve price panel, while ignoring the panel study’s conclusion that the appropriate reserve price must not be lower than 67 per cent of the full price. He said the reserve price of 4.5bn per slot was 70 per cent of the full price per slot.

He added that the main objective of the auction was to effectively allocate all the spectrum slots: the price was not the priority.

“We’re satisfied with the final outcome [which] is 1.125bn higher than the total reserve price of nine slots,” Suthiphon added.

Settapong said if there was no 2.1GHz auction, there would be no auction of the 1,800MHz spectrum.

He said that the concessions of some telecom operators would end soon, so it is necessary to find a way to grant them access to the spectrum to help them continue to provide service to customers.

The three bidders were Advanced Info Service’s Advanced Wireless Network (AWN); DTAC Network (DTN) of Total Access Communication; and True Corp’s Real Future.

The three cellular operators are expected to migrate their customers from their concessions to the 3G licenses to enjoy lower regulatory fees. The concession fee cost each of them around 25 per cent of their gross revenue, while the 3G licenses will cost each of them 5.75 per cent per year.

A telecom analyst said it would take four years at least for them to gain regular cost savings from the licenses, as they will not be able to migrate all customers from the concessions to the licenses overnight.

AIS has over 34 million customers, while DTAC has over 23 million and TrueMove 17 million.

Sam Dinkin, senior auction consultant of Power Auctions, said there was no collusion detected among the bidders. “There is no evidence of collusion,” he said.

NBTC hired Power Auctions to incorporate the auction rules into the software used and to support its management of the 3G auction.

AWN was the top bidder, quoting a total of 14.625bn for three slots. Under the terms of the auction, the highest bidder is given first choice of their desired spectrum range. AWN selected ranges adjacent to that being used currently to provide 3G service by its concession owner, TOT.

Real Future and DTN quoted equal final prices for each of their slots. They had to draw lots to be the second to select the spectrum range. Real Future selected ranges in the middle of 2.1GHz band, while DTN selected those in the first range.

The auction took around six hours. In the closing round, there were six slots with prices of Bt4.5 billion each. Two slots attracted the highest individual per-slot price of 4.950bn, while another was priced at 4.725bn.

The first round of the initial bidding phase started at 10am when all had to quote the same reserve price of 4.5bn per slot. The price could be raised at fixed increments of 225 million baht per round. Each bidder was given 30 minutes to consider before placing a bid in each round.

In this first bid round, six out of nine slots were selected, resulting in a total value of the quoted price of 27bn. Two bidders selected two of the same slots in this round. One bidder selected two slots. The NBTC staff said it implied the bidders did not collude as at least two bidders selected the same two slots.

In the last round, no bidder placed a quote or waived a price offering. As a result, the auction ended at 3:45pm.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Noodle shop ‘taking the piss’ with special ingredient

The Thaiger

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Noodle shop ‘taking the piss’ with special ingredient | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: sanook.com

Thai Facebook page ‘Return.v12’ has posted a storey about people who believe in the “power of urine” and that it can heal body pain and diseases. The noodle shop owner admitted that he has been using his own urine as a “secret ingredient” and that he has a lot of customers because of it.

He claims that his customers tell him that his noodles makes their muscle pain go away but admits he hasn’t told them about the additional surprise ingredient.

Ever since he added the secret ingredient to the noodles his sales have improved. He also attached a picture of his noodles.

Another member of the Facebook group asked the question…

“Hello, urine can be used in food right? I own a restaurant in the middle of a city, if I add my urine to the dishes would it make my food more delicious and would my customers gain better health? I’ll add more for those who come from this group.”

We don’t know where the noodle shop is.

“My family owns a noodle shop. Many people in the area come to my shop. Many of them are workers coming in for lunch. My customers often told me that they had back pain and muscle pain. I didn’t know how to help them, I wanted to tell them the truth but I didn’t want to seem weird about it.”

“So I took the issue into my own hands and started adding my own urine into the soup pot. Customers started loving my noodles, they tell me how their pain has gone away since they started eating my noodles. Some even asked if I had a secret ingredient haha.”

No photos were available of the cook adding the secret ingredient.

SOURCE: sanook.com | ThaiResidents.com

Noodle shop 'taking the piss' with special ingredient | News by The Thaiger

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Opinion

Saving Thai Airways

Tim Newton

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Saving Thai Airways | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The pleasant smile and wai won’t fill aircraft seats anymore

Whilst it’s always a generally pleasant experience flying Thai Airways, the airline, in a business sense, is a basket case racking up nearly a decade of losses, first under the Yingluck Shinawatra Government and then the military government of the NCPO.

Most people in aviation circles agree on the main challenges for the national carrier.

• Entrenched nepotism and cronyism
• Top heavy management
• Contracts for older staff which do not reflect aviation business realities in 2019
• Uncompetitive pricing

So do what QANTAS did in Australia in 2003.

QANTAS was Australia’s legacy airline which had similar long-standing contracts and Union issues that made it difficult for the national carrier to compete in the modern aviation business. It battled for decades with the staff, all on cushy contracts, and the Unions were resistant to change as well.

So they started JetStar, a completely separate company headquartered in Melbourne, but under the wider QANTAS banner. It would take over the ‘leisure’ routes and compete as a low-cost carrier. As QANTAS slowly moved routes over to its cheaper subsidiary the parent airline had a much better argument to pay-out the older, uncompetitive contracts and lay-off the ‘old pot boilers’.

JetStar was not a glamorous airline and lacked the reputation and brand-love of the ‘flying kangaroo’ but, as a business strategy, was a winner for QANTAS and gave them options to modernise the national airline business. The CEO, Alan Joyce, came through Aer Lingus in Ireland then the failing Ansett Airlines in Australia to completely turn Australia’s national carrier upside-down. The strategy worked.

The model has been repeated by other national airlines.

Thai Airways sort of tried the same strategy with Thai Smile in 2012. The offshoot of the parent Thai Airways International, would fly leisure routes for the national carrier but it was still owned entirely by Thai Airways and wasn’t set up as a separate entity so was subject to much of the same ‘handbrakes’ that was holding back Thai Airways from competition in the modern aviation market.

Brand Thai Airways is starting to look a bit tired. The Thai smile, orchids, pleasant staff wai-ing to the camera is all a bit naff when most customers in 2019 are looking for a safe, efficient, on-time airline, at a competitive price. Let’s face it, the seating is much the same, give or take, in just about any plane now. Unless you have the deeper pockets and can afford to sit closer to the front of the plane, you’re in cattle class whether you’re on Thai Airways, Air Asia or RyanAir. A Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 is much the same aeroplane no matter who is flying it.

So what does Thai Airways have to offer customers these days that they won’t get on the many alternatives airlines flying on the same routes? Nice uniforms? A Thai stir-fry included in your airfare? (I’m battling to think of anything else…)

At the same time their website , whilst much improved in the past 12 months, is still a bit ‘clumsy’ compared to other airlines’, the fleet is starting to look a bit ‘tired’, the eight years of loss after loss is starting to noticeably weigh on the airline’s staff, and in many cases the airfares are simply too expensive.

Unless you’re a huge Thai Airways fanboy or fangirl, there are fewer reasons every year to keep flying Thailand’s national airline.

Thailand’s surging tourist industry, which despite a few blips this year will continue to grow, has provided a huge opportunity for Thai Airways to thrive and grow. Instead the airline’s management have squandered an enormous opportunity. Whilst calling for patience as they make (almost zero) changes, many other airlines have jumped into their flying space with newer aircraft, better promotions, cheaper flights and a better business plan.

If Thai Airways was a private company they would have been out of business a decade ago. Instead they keep coming back to the Thai government with their hat out for contributions to bail them out of quarter after quarter of losses.

The airline’s main backer, the Thai government, provides a massive disincentive for the airline to clean up the internal mess and modernise. Where’s the urgency to make the necessary changes when the government will always end up bailing them out? The airline has simply weaponised ‘saving face’ – the national carrier simply CAN’T fail.

But maybe the view of Thai Airways as a potential profitable business is old-fashioned and the costs to the Thai taxpayer should be seen as an ‘investment’ into the country’s growing tourist industry. Middle Eastern airlines are operated in this way where they make massive losses but provide excellent service on modern aircraft dragging tourists through and to their airports and destinations.

Now Thai Airways is asking for the Thai government to bankroll the purchase of new aircraft for its fleet. That the Thai Government seems in no rush to write out any more cheques to Thai Airways is a good indication that some hard decisions now need to be made.

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Environment

Thailand Prime Minister rejects calls to ban plastic bags

May Taylor

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Thailand Prime Minister rejects calls to ban plastic bags | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

In what some may see as a baffling contradiction, Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha promised to protect marine life, while simultaneously rejecting an increasing number of calls for a ban on single-use plastic bags.

Following the death of Marium, a young dugong who had ingested plastic waste, the PM says he has ordered the agencies concerned to take more measures to protect sea life.

Of particular concern to the PM is the fate of another young dugong.

“Yamil must not die”.

The PM says the use of some plastic will be banned by 2022, including single-use plastic bags, but insists the issue is not solely the government’s responsibility.

“Everyone has a duty to help reduce plastic waste. It is unfair and pointless to blame the government when sea animals die due to marine waste. This issue is everyone’s responsibility,” he maintains.

A conservation plan known as the “Marium Project” has been approved by the cabinet, along with a number of other proposals to protect marine life, specifically dugongs.

Among them is a plan to create more dugong conservation areas such as Koh Libong in Trang province, where Marium was looked after.  The chosen sites should have beaches rich in sea-grass, a preferred food source for the dugong.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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