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NBTC sets schedule for next telecom spectrum auctions

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's telecom committee yesterday approved the final time frame for auctions of the 1,800- and 900-megahertz spectra.

The committee also approved budgets for setting up the auctions. It will set aside Bt80 million for the 1,800MHz auction and Bt50 million for the 900MHz sale, said NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasit.

Two licences for the 1,800MHz spectrum, for bandwidth currently held by TrueMove and Digital Phone Co, will be auctioned in August, while one 900MHz licence is scheduled to be auctioned in November. The 900MHz band is currently being used by Advanced Info Service (AIS), whose concession under TOT will expire next year.

The telecom committee plans to call bids next year for 50MHz bandwidth of 1,800MHz held by Total Access Communication. The DTAC concession under CAT Telecom will end in 2018.

The NBTC board is expected to announce the reserve prices next month for 1,800MHz and in May for 900MHz. The reserve price for 1,800MHz is expected to be in the same range of that of the 2.1-gigahertz spectrum, while the 900MHz reserve price should be higher, according to the international standard.

The commission auctioned the 2.1GHz spectrum in 2012 after setting the reserve price at Bt4.5 billion per spectrum slot.

Takorn said the telecom committee had to put the draft licensing proposal for both the 900MHz and 1,800MHz spectra to a public hearing first before finalising the number of licences to be available in the auctions. But the main idea is that the NBTC will auction two 1,800MHz licences, each featuring 12.6MHz bandwidth, and one 900MHz licence featuring 17.5MHz bandwidth.

There is a total of 20MHz bandwidth available on the 900MHz spectrum but only 17.5MHz was granted to AIS, while the rest was kept by the NBTC. Takorn said that if an NBTC study finds that it is technically appropriate to auction all 20MHz, it might consider making two licences available at the 900MHz auction.

Since the 900MHz auction will take place before the AIS concession expires, the NBTC will not issue the licence to the winning bidder immediately. Instead, it will issue the necessary equipment-import permits for the winner.


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