January 27, 2014 00:00 By Usanee Mongkolporn
The 900- and 1,800-megahertz spectra should be sold off in a single auction this year, according to the preliminary recommendation of the International Telecommunication Union to the National Broadcasting and Telecommuni-cations Commission.
The NBTC hired the ITU to study the licensing plan for the 1,800MHz and other spectra that had been under state concessions. The recommendations have been submitted for the NBTC telecom committee’s consideration.
Of three proposed options on how an auction should be conducted, the ITU preliminarily recommends that the watchdog hold one multi-band auction for both the 900MHz and 1,800MHz spectra this year. This would allow bidders to show the demand for both spectra at the same time. This method would motivate long-term investment by the winning bidders.
The NBTC working committee on the 1,800MHz auction plan has also submitted its opinions on the ITU study for the telecom committee’s consideration. The panel says a single auction of both spectra would enable winning licensees to design service coverage effectively. This would also ensure that existing 900MHz customers see their service continue after the concession ends next year.
But the working committee is concerned that a single auction would mean the bidders need a massive amount of cash to participate. It could also attract accusations of bid collusion.
The private cellular operators also favour a single auction of both spectra to fulfil their demand for a large amount of bandwidth as customer demand grows.
The NBTC intends to call bids for the 1,800MHz and other spectra late this year, paving the way for fourth-generation wireless broadband service.
The 1,800MHz concessions of TrueMove and Digital Phone Co (DPC), each with 12.5MHz bandwidth, expired at the same time last September, but the NBTC permitted them to continue serving customers for one more year to give them time to migrate customers to other networks.
The 17.5MHz bandwidth of the 900MHz concession of Advanced Info Service will end next year, while the concession of 50MHz bandwidth of the 1,800MHz concession of Total Access Communication (DTAC) will expire in 2018.
The ITU also recommends that the licences made available in the upcoming auction should have the same expiry date, regardless of when the different concession periods end. This would be preferable to mandating a 15-year validity period for all licences, it believes.
According to the ITU’s preliminary recommendation, the auction should be carried out without special incentives to attract new bidders. They should receive the same treatment as existing operators participating in the auction.