CAT turns to Cabinet in bid to keep band
National telecom security, need to serve remaining clients cited in plea
CAT Telecom will ask the Cabinet to approve its plan to retain its cellular frequencies, citing the need to ensure national telecommunication security and to serve customers of companies with concessions expiring soon.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) wants to reclaim the frequencies of operators when their concessions with state enterprises CAT and TOT end so that they can be reallocated via auctions.
After receiving board approval this week, CAT will ask the Information and Communications Technology Ministry to seek the Cabinet's help, said director Sompong Poksasem.
The board was concerned that if all frequencies, which are national resources, fall into the hands of private operators, national telecom security could be affected.
CAT chief executive officer Kitisak Sriprasert said his agency could cite Article 84(4) of the Frequency Allocation Act, which requires the NBTC to set time frames for state enterprises to transfer their frequencies to the commission or to improve their use of the frequencies. The watchdog's consideration of these periods has to be based on public benefit.
CAT on February 19 asked the ministry to ask the Cabinet to make it a national priority for both telecom agencies to be able to keep their frequencies. It also informed the ministry of its plan to use its frequencies to promote wireless broadband service such as fourth-generation cellular to serve the government's policy to promote equal access and to seek new revenue sources.
CAT wants to keep the 850-megahertz band until August 2025, instead of September 2018, when the concession it granted to Total Access Communication (DTAC) ends. CAT said it needed this band to provide national wireless data roaming service. Currently, DTAC uses this band to offer third-generation cellular service under its concession.
CAT also wants to keep the 1,800MHz band of TrueMove until August 2025 instead of September 15 this year, when TrueMove's concession ends. CAT would use this band to continue serving TrueMove's customers.
CAT says it believes TrueMove will not be able to migrate all of its 18 million subscribers to other networks in time, so the agency needs this 1,800MHz slot to serve an estimated 10 million remaining customers.
If CAT loses this 1,800MHz band, it will serve the leftover subscribers with its My brand 3G-850MHz cellular service.