NBTC panel favours 1,800MHZ spectrum
The telecom committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has approved in principle a proposal by the sub-panel preparing for the expiry of 1,800MHz concessions that the regulator should reclaim the spectrum for reallocation.
Telecom committee chairman Settapong Malisuwan yesterday said his panel would now consider details of exactly how to reclaim the spectrum.
However, it remains to be seen whether CAT Telecom, which holds the 1,800-megahertz spectrum, will easily let go of this precious asset. CAT chief executive officer Kittisak Sriprasert said this week that it would cite a clause in the contracts that allow the parties - the state agency and its private cellular concession holders - to maintain the networks for two years after the concessions end.
This is part of the agency's attempt to keep hold of the 1,800MHz spectrum so that it can continue to provide service to subscribers of TrueMove and Digital Phone Co (DPC) after their concessions expire this September.
NBTC member Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn yesterday insisted, however, that CAT's right to hold the spectrum should end once the concessions expire, regardless of what the contracts say. Settapong said his committee would ask CAT, DPC and TrueMove to provide details of spectrum use and subscriber numbers. In the next quarter, it will ask each of them to submit for its consideration their plans to prevent any negative impact on subscribers when the DPC and TrueMove concessions end. TrueMove has 17 million subscribers and DPC 80,000.
One of many options for spectrum reclaim proposed by the NBTC's 1,800MHz panel is that the regulator might have to talk with Total Access Communication (DTAC) and its concession owner CAT, as DTAC's 1,800MHz band is adjacent to those used by DPC and TrueMove.
TrueMove and DPC each hold 12.5MHz of bandwidth under the 1,800MHz spectrum. Technically, winners in an auction of the spectrum would be able to use only 10MHz of both TrueMove's and DPC's current allocation, which means that the remaining 2.5MHz per company would not be available for use.
As the spectrum for wireless broadband service use should be allotted 5MHz per slot, the NBTC should seek a way to combine the TrueMove and DPC bands to create full 25MHz bandwidth.
Settapong said the telecom committee would also set up a panel to prepare for the auction of the 1,800MHz spectrum, which is expected to take place next year. The spectrum can be used to provide fourth-generation wireless broadband service.
True Corp is expected to be keen to gain a spectrum slot so that it can continue to provide service to TrueMove's existing subscribers. Advanced Info Service is also eager to bid for the spectrum, as it needs more bandwidth to enhance its cellular service.