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NBTC telecom committee to |consider Thaicom 8 licence this week

The regulator might need more time to consider all aspects before deciding whether to award a telecom licence for the planned Thaicom 8 broadcasting satellite, said Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's telecom committee.

The committee is expected to convene tomorrow on Thaicom's request for a licence for Thaicom 8. The satellite operator has asked the committee to allow Thaicom 8 to operate under the existing licence for its other planned satellite, Thaicom 7.

A telecom committee source said the panel was considering whether it can grant the licence to Thaicom 8 now, given it has yet to finalise its licensing regulations for the satellite business.

But some members claim the committee might risk being accused of negligence of duty if it moves too slowly on Thaicom 8, for which the licence-application procedure has been completed.

The telecom committee awarded a licence for Thaicom 7 in 2012 despite the incomplete satellite-licensing regulations. It granted the licence so the Information and Communications Technology Ministry could maintain the country's reservation rights to the 120 degrees east longitude orbital slot, where Thaicom 7 will be positioned, before they expired in January 2012.

Thaicom 7 is subject to future changes in the licensing regulations once they are in place. Thaicom and Asia Satellite Telecommunication (AsiaSat) have jointly positioned an interim satellite to retain the 120 degrees east slot.

The telecom committee source said that unlike the case of Thaicom 7, Thaicom 8 was about Thaicom's business expansion, and not about maintaining the country's right to reserve an orbital slot.

But Thaicom's vice president for corporate affairs, Ekachai Phakdurong, argued that the Thaicom 8 case was also in the national interest, as the state would gain revenue from the company's business growth. If Thaicom is ready to expand its business but the regulator stands in the way, this could affect the revenue not only of the company but also of the country.


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