Final price to be starting point for 1,800 MHz auction
The final price in the 2.1-gigahertz spectrum auction today will be used as the basis for setting the reserve price when the regulator auctions the 1,800-megahertz spectrum in the near future.Jesada Sivaraks, secretary to the vice chairman of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), said yesterday that the reserve price for 1,800MHz slots would have to be higher than the Bt4.5 billion per slot of the 2.1GHz spectrum, as the bandwidth could be used to provide fourth-generation cellular broadband service.
A telecom analyst expects competition in the 1,800MHz auction to be fierce. Demand should be greater than supply, given that there would be only a combined 25MHz of bandwidth - 12.5MHz from TrueMove and another 12.5MHz from Digital Phone Co (DPC) - available at the auction. This compares with the total of 45MHz of 2.1GHz spectrum bandwidth available for the three bidders at today's auction.
Advanced Info Service (AIS) wants to use the 1,800MHz spectrum for 4G development, while TrueMove wants the 12.5MHz back to offer 4G service, as well as to enable it to continue to provide 2G service after its concession ends by leasing the 1,800MHz network equipment from CAT Telecom.
The 1,800MHz concessions of TrueMove and DPC expire next September. Jesada acknowledged that the plan to auction the 1,800MHz spectrum would face an even rockier road than that for the 2.1GHz spectrum, given the number of parties involved.
One is CAT, the state agency that granted 1,800MHz concessions to TrueMove and DPC and which wants to keep the spectrum for providing service after the concessions end.
Then there are TrueMove's 17 million subscribers and DPC's 80,000. Jesada said the NBTC must finalise next month the plan to prevent these subscribers from being adversely affected when the concessions run out.
Under the NBTC spectrum master plan, state agencies have to hand over their spectra to the regulator for reallocation by means of auction once the concessions end. The NBTC is currently asking CAT and TOT to provide details of their present spectrum utilisation, and their likely needs if they want to keep the spectra.
The AIS concession under TOT expires in late 2015, while that of Total Access Communication (DTAC) ends in 2018.
Jesada accepted that however well it planned the 1,800MHz auction, the NBTC would face legal challenges just as it had when it came to the 2.1GHz auction.