TOT, CAT oppose NBTC plan to sell off spectra before concessions end

Economy March 06, 2014 00:00


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THE STATE telecom agencies have opposed a plan by the telecommunications regulator to auction off two spectra before their concessions expire.

TOT and CAT Telecom voiced their opposition yesterday at a meeting of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, telecom operators and telecom experts to discuss the draft auction plan.
The NBTC’s telecom committee on Tuesday approved the time frame to auction two bands of 12.5 megahertz currently held by TrueMove and Digital Phone Co on the 1,800MHz spectrum in August and 17.5MHz of the 900MHz spectrum held by Advanced Info Service (AIS) in November. It plans to auction 50MHz bandwidth of 1,800MHz held by Total Access Communication (DTAC) next year. 
The TrueMove and DPC concessions expired last September, but that of AIS under TOT will not expire until next year and that of DTAC under CAT Telecom in 2018.
A TOT representative said the NBTC did not have the right to put AIS’s 900MHz band up for auction. Even after the AIS concession expires next year, TOT still has the right over the spectrum, as the state agency’s licence under the NBTC is good until 2025.
Tanwadee Wongterarit, senior executive vice president of CAT, said his agency also did not support the auction of the spectra before the concessions expire. She said that if licences were issued for the spectra now, in the future the NBTC might lose the opportunity to use them for other purposes under new technologies that might arise.
Recently CAT asked the NBTC to consider imposing a 35MHz cap on total spectrum ownership for each telecom operator. The state agency also told the commission that it should allow both CAT and TOT, which are owned by the Finance Ministry, to take part in the upcoming auctions. 
In 2012, the NBTC forbade entities that had common shareholders to compete in the auction for the 2.1-gigahertz spectrum. 
CAT is in talks with SK Telecom on a possible partnership to bid jointly for the spectra in the upcoming auctions.
True Corp yesterday also opposed the telecom committee’s plan to auction off the spectra before their concessions expire. Its representative said this might benefit the two “market dominants” in some ways, but declined to elaborate. 
Representatives of AIS and DTAC, however, said their companies supported the upcoming auctions and wanted them to take place as soon as possible.