Sunday Communications may exit Singapore's 3G auction

Hong Kong-based Sunday Communications Ltd. may pull out from Singapore's third generation cellular (3G) race if the outcome of discussions with the government continue to be "unfavorable."

Craig Ehrlich, group managing director of the Hong Kong-based mobile phone operator, told Computerworld Singapore Thursday that "they are not sure" if they will go ahead with the bidding for the 3G licence.

Ehrlich said his doubts surfaced after talks with the government early this week. "It has something to do with the incentives to attract big players that the government would not give," he said, but declined to give details.

"We were 90 percent sure to go ahead but after the discussions, it (the probability) has gone down to less than 50 percent. But we will see what happens on Monday," he said.

On Monday, April 9, 3G hopefuls are to submit their initial offers and bank guarantees to the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA).

IDA will also announce on 11 April whether the 3G auction will proceed.

Earlier, Communications and Information Technology Minister Yeo Cheow Tong said that the applicants' choice of spectrum would determine whether an auction would take place. Yeo said there will be no auction if the four interested parties are bidding for separate spectrums and they do not overlap.

Last month, IDA scaled down the 3G licence reserve price from S$150 million to S$100 million (US$90.9 million to $60.6 million).

Sunday Communications co-chairman and executive director Richard Siemens had said earlier that he does not expect to shell out more than S$100 million for a licence here.

If Sunday Communications drops out of the race, the 3G auction will be left with only three contenders - Mobile One Asia Pte. Ltd. (M1), Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) and StarHub Pte. Ltd.

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More about IDAInfocomm Development AuthorityMobile One AsiaSiemensSingapore TelecommunicationsSingtelStarHubSunday Communications

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