NBTC move to help state agencies

Economy July 21, 2014 00:00


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Spectrum licence winners could be required to use TOT and cat infrastructure

THE National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission plans to require winners of its future telecom spectrum licence auctions to consider first using TOT and CAT Telecom’s infrastructure when they expand network coverage.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasit said the proposal aimed to help both state telecom agencies become real national network providers.

He said the NBTC had informed the junta about the proposal, which would cover all future licence auctions, including those for the 1,800- and 900-megahertz spectra.

The plan is connected to the National Council for Peace and Order’s order on Thursday that obliged the NBTC to delay the scheduled 1,800MHz and 900MHz licence auctions by a year. They were due to be held in August and November respectively.

The aim is to provide more time for both state agencies to adjust their operations so they survive and for the NBTC to seek a way to amend some clauses of the 2010 Frequency Allocation Act.

Takorn said the winners of future auctions would have to consider using TOT’s or CAT’s fibre- optic cables and telecommunication towers when expanding.

He said that by doing so telecom operators would be able to quickly expand their networks as they would not have to go through the complicated process of applying for permits from local administrations.

Many provinces have just introduced regulations that define telecommunication towers with a height of over 10 metres and a weight of over 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 quickly.

An NBTC source said the watchdog was working out which agency, CAT or TOT, future spectrum licence holders should approach first to use their infrastructure.

If the issue was not sorted out, the source said, there could be conflict between the two agencies.

CAT owns some 2,000 telecommunication towers and fibre-optic networks with a length of some 20,000 kilometres.

The tally does not include the asset under built-operate-transfer contracts with its private concession holders Total Access Communication and TrueMove. CAT disputes the ownership of many of the towers under their build-operate-transfer deals.

TOT owns around 12,000 telecom towers and has some 100,000km in fibre-optic networks.

An NBTC source said TOT had informed the junta that it wanted to keep the 900MHz licence for 15 years after the 900MHz licence concession it granted to Advanced Info Service expired in September 2015.

But the watchdog told the junta that it would create greater economic benefit to the country to reclaim all the spectra held by the two state telecom agencies.

The combined value of the |existing spectra is about Bt140 billion.