NBTC to press for auction of spectrum

Economy July 07, 2014 00:00


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THE NATIONAL broadcasting and telecom regulator will insist that the junta allow the auction of the 1,800MHz spectrum licences.

National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said the regulator would draw up details to clarify this point with the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) this week. 
He added that the auction was the means to ensure that the spectrum was utilised efficiently to benefit the country. 
The NCPO had earlier instructed the watchdog to suspend the auctions of the 1,800MHz and 900MHz licences this year, pending the junta receiving clarification of the plan’s details. 
In addition, the NCPO had told the NBTC to first find out from TOT and CAT Telecom if they anticipated facing any problems from the auctions being held. Then the NBTC will have to submit its final decision regarding the auctions, and the solutions to any CAT and TOT issues for the NCPO’s consideration.
The watchdog originally planned to auction the 1,800MHz bands of TrueMove and Digital Phone Co in August and the 900MHz of Advanced Info Service (AIS) in November. 
The NBTC has already held talks with TOT and CAT.
Takorn said that TOT president Yongyuth Wattanasin had told him the state telecom operator wanted the junta and the watchdog to find a way to amend Article 84 of the 2010 Frequency Allocation Act.
Starting last December, the Act obliges TOT and CAT to transfer all annual concession revenue to the state coffers. This has resulted in financial woes for both state agencies.
TOT also wants to keep the 900MHz spectrum for 15 years after the 900MHz concession it granted to AIS expires next year. 
It also wants to use half of its 64MHz bandwidth of the 2.3GHz spectrum to provide a 4G wireless broadband service.
The NBTC recently told TOT that its 2.3GHz spectrum term had already expired. The watchdog will reallocate all spectra by auction after their concessions expire.
Takorn said CAT chief executive officer Kitisak Sriprasert did not oppose Article 84, as it wanted its staff to learn to deal with any challenge. Even without this law, CAT would still face the challenge of the 1,800 MHz concession it granted to Total Access Communication (DTAC), which expires in 2018.
CAT also wants the NBTC to find ways for it to utilise the currently unused 25MHz bandwidth of 1,800MHz in the DTAC concession.
CAT has granted DTAC the right to use 50MHz bandwidth of the 1,800MHz spectrum but only half of that is being used.