NBTC looks to third quarter of next year for 1,800MHz

Economy February 13, 2013 00:00

By Usanee Mongkolporn
The Nation

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has tentatively set the third quarter of next year as the period in which it will call bids for the 1,800-megahertz spectrum, its telecom committee chairman Settapong Malisuwan said yesterday.


The 1,800MHz concession contracts granted to TrueMove and Digital Phone Co (DPC) by CAT Telecom will expire this September, upon which the NBTC hopes to reclaim the spectrum from CAT for reallocation. 
The telecom committee is expected to set up a panel tasked with drawing up the auction plan in the middle of this year, Settapong said.
However, he warned that the schedule for auctioning bandwidth under the spectrum might be have to be postponed if CAT could find a way to retain the spectrum after the concessions end. 
The state telecom agency recently said its concession contracts opened up an avenue by which it could keep the spectrum for a further two years. 
Next week, the telecom committee will consider the proposal for the 1,800MHz auction made by its sub-panel preparing for expiry of the concessions this year. 
The sub-panel is also expected to come up with details of the expansion of mobile-phone number portability and remedial measures to prevent DPC and TrueMove customers from being negatively affected during the transition period.
The telecom committee will finalise the portability plan early next month to cope with the mass number transfer for all mobile users in all networks, including those of DPC and TrueMove. 
Number portability allows subscribers to migrate to different networks and continue using their existing phone numbers. The current daily combined number-transfer capacity of five telecom operators is about 40,000 numbers.
The NBTC sub-panel preparing for TrueMove and DPC concession expiry has proposed that the regulator auction a combined 20MHz of bandwidth in the 1,800MHz spectrum, and that each participant be allowed to bid for a maximum of 10MHz so as to ensure meaningful competition.