Govt help sought over classification of telecom towers as buildings

Economy July 15, 2014 00:00

By Usanee Mongkolporn
The Nation

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The national telecom regulator is seeking government help to solve the difficulty telecom operators face when trying to expand their network coverage in the provinces because of the Interior Ministry's regulations governing building construction.

Many provinces have just introduced the regulations, which define telecommunication towers with a height of over 10 metres and a weight of more than 40 kilograms as buildings. This means that permission from provincial authorities is needed before the towers can be built, and this has affected the telecom operators’ attempts to roll out new or expanded networks upcountry quickly.
Korkij Danchaivichit, deputy secretary of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, said the operators did not experience this problem in Bangkok as the city was yet to introduce the regulations.
In May, three operators of third-generation telecom service on the 2.1-gigahertz spectrum asked the NBTC to help solve the problem. It in turn has asked the Department of Public Works and Town and Country Planning to see if telecom infrastructure should be classified as buildings. 
The department then asked the NBTC to raise the matter formally, and the commission made its submission on June 26.
NBTC data reveal that as of April, Advanced Wireless Network had finished installing 10,380 3G-2.1GHz base stations nationwide out of the 12,869 approved by the NBTC, while DTAC Network had finished installing 6,680 bases out of the 7,032 approved. 
Real Future had finished installing 1,358 bases out of approved 1,358.
NBTC licensing regulations oblige these three 2.1GHz licence-holders to finish covering 50 per cent of the population with 3G networks within two years. They obtained the licenses in December 2012. 
So far only Real Future has failed to achieve the goal but it promised the NBTC it would meet the obligation by the end of the year, when it would have more than 6,000 base stations, Korkij said.
True Group has mainly focused on expanding its 850-megahertz network nationwide and now has 13,500 3G base stations on that spectrum.