NBTC steps for concession expiry by June
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is expected to wrap up in June all measures to deal with the expiry of concessions of TrueMove and Digital Phone Co (DPC) on September 15.The NBTC's telecom committee chairman, Settapong Malisuwan, said that in June the committee would also conclude which parties it would assign to take care of the customers of TrueMove and DPC who fail to move to other networks after the concession expiry. It will also specify how long these assigned parties should take care of these customers.
"If any state or private parties disagree with any measures announced in June, they could take the case to court," he added. If the case is brought to court, he believes the court will hurry to make a ruling before the concession expiry in September.
TrueMove and DPC each has about 18 million and 80,000 subscribers, respectively. CAT Telecom has granted them the 1,800 megahertz spectrum to offer cellular service under concession contracts.
Both CAT, and TrueMove's parent True Corp, want to be the one to take care of TrueMove's customers who fail to migrate to other networks on time once the concession ends. CAT has estimated that about 10 million customers of TrueMove will be left in the cellular operator's network after September.
Settapong said that in his opinion, after the concession ends, the TrueMove-DPC customers should belong to CAT, according to the Built-Transfer-Operate contracts between CAT and both cellular operators.
The telecom committee has also assigned its legal team to examine all legal aspects regarding the consequences after the concession expiry. In parallel, the telecom committee is working out a plan to auction 1,800MHz spectrum of both cellular operators.
Settapong added that the 1,800MHz spectrum should not be used only for providing broadband data service but also voice service.
He admitted that it is difficult for the NBTC to make any final decision regarding the auction of the 1,800MHz spectrum, given the spectrum involved several parties, from CAT to TrueMove and DPC customers. Recently, the NBTC estimated that the 1,800MHz auction would take place in October next year.
Even with no party owning or using the 2.1GHz spectrum before, the NBTC faced several legal obstacles before it could auction the 2.1GHz spectrum last October. Shortly after the successful auction, many parties slammed the NBTC for failing to ensure meaningful competition among the three bidders.
CAT has explored all means to pressure the NBTC to permit it to continue to keep the 1,800MHz spectrum after the TrueMove-DPC concession ends. It cited the need to keep the spectrum to serve customers, who fail to move to other networks after the concession ends.
According to the 2010 Frequency Allocation Law, the state agencies' spectra will be returned to the NBTC for reallocation by means of auction only.