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Spectrum auction plan gets the green light

The telecom committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission yesterday approved a proposal by its subcommittee to auction two licences on the 1,800-megahertz spectrum and two on 900MHz, said committee chairman Settapong Malisuwan.

Each of the two 1,800MHz licences will comprise 12.5MHz bandwidth, while on the 900MHz spectrum, there will be one licence with 10MHz bandwidth and one with 7.5MHz.

While bidders for the 1,800MHz licences will be allowed to go for only one each, those vying for the 900MHz spectrum will be allowed to bid for both. Settapong said this set-up should urge many players to join the auctions.

The telecom committee also approved the subcommittee's proposal that the bid winners' networks must cover 40 per cent of population within four years. This is much more relaxed than the obligation placed on the winners of bandwidth on the 2.1-gigahertz spectrum, which were required to cover 50 per cent of population within the first year after obtaining their licences in December 2012.

The 1,800MHz bandwidth the NBTC will put up for auction is currently used by TrueMove and Digital Phone Co (DPC), which hold 12.5MHz each. Their concessions expired last September.

The 17.5MHz bandwidth on the 900MHz spectrum set to be reallocated is currently used by Advanced Info Service, whose concession will end next year. The 1,800MHz auction will be held in August and the one for the 900MHz spectrum in November.

Settapong said his panel was also considering whether either of the auctions should be cancelled if the number of bidders did not outnumber the licences up for grabs. He will propose this on April 18 when the panel convenes to consider the auction reserve prices for the licences.

He estimated that the price of a 900MHz licence would be higher than for a 1,800MHz block, which in turn would be more expensive than for a 2.1GHz licence. The reserve price for a 2.1GHz at the 2012 auction was Bt4.5 billion per 5MHz bandwidth.

According to an NBTC source, the reserve price of a licence for 12.5MHz bandwidth will be around Bt11 billion to Bt12 billion, while that for 10MHz of the 900MHz spectrum would be about Bt10 billion.


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