File photo : Takorn
File photo : Takorn

NBTC aims for spectra switch rules to be in place by year’s end 

Economy September 20, 2017 01:00

The Nation

THE National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) regulations to reclaim telecom and broadcasting spectra are expected to take effect by the end of this year, the regulator's secretary general Takorn Tantasith said yesterday.

He added that the watchdog was expected to air the draft regulations in a public hearing in November.

Among the spectrum bands the NBTC will consider first for any reclamations are the TOT's 2.3GHz and MCOT's 2.6GHz.

The NBTC yesterday held the first focus group hearing on the draft of the country's first regulations, methods, and conditions of spectrum reclamation.

The NBTC targets to take back the whole or part of the idle spectra as well as the spectra that have not been maximally used from the spectrum holders before their spectrum valid periods expire.

The previous NBTC law and the existing NBTC law empower the NBTC to reclaim such spectra for reallocation and the watchdog will compensate the affected spectrum holders.

According to the draft, the NBTC will study which spectra and how much of the bandwidth it will reclaim and then inform the holders of such spectra. If the spectrum holders decline to hand over the targeted spectra, they can bring the case to court.

The NBTC will hire at least three state education institutes to evaluate the targeted spectra and work out the compensation value.

The NBTC can compensate the affected spectrum holders via each of the three optional methods or a mixture of them, Takorn said. 

The methods include allocating other spectra for them to use, paying for their cost of deploying the new spectrum equipment after the spectrum reclamation, or paying them for the loss of business opportunities after the reclamation.

Many attendees of the focus group yesterday suggested that the NBTC should consider compensating the customers of the affected spectrum holders or their contractual partners, too, after the reclamation as their customers and partners would also feel the impact of the NBTC’s decisions.

Some asked for the NBTC to give a clearer definition of what it means by optimal use of the spectra.

The NBTC yesterday also held the first public hearing on the draft of the new version of regulations governing mergers of telecommunications businesses. The draft aims to create a more favourable merger environment in the sector.

The existing regulations that govern mergers and cross shareholdings in the sector were drawn up by the now-defunct National Telecommunications Commission and have been in effect since May 2010.

In the seven years since, the NBTC and the telecom licence holders found that it took too much time to obtain a merger permit from the NBTC and the related processes of requesting the permit are costly. These experiences prompted the NBTC to draft the new regulations aimed at simplifying the process.