Thailand’s National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is contemplating taking back 3G spectrum it previously awarded to TOT, and putting it up for auction on 1 December. NTC chairman Choochart Promphrasid said the watchdog had to ‘consider which part of that spectrum is already utilised and which is not’ before deciding whether to reclaim it and offer it to tender at the end of the year. The NTC awarded UMTS licences to TOT and CAT Telecom as part of the first phase of the country’s liberalisation process, but it is now considering a move to once again make TOT join an auction for the precious spectrum.
TOT is in the final stages of taking over another wireless operator, Thai Mobile, from CAT – its other major shareholder. Thai Mobile holds frequencies in the 1900MHz and 2000MHz bands that can be used for both 2G and 3G services. Although Thai Mobile is using part of the spectrum for its 2G operation, it is yet to deploy a high speed service, and the NTC is keen to make the best use of this dormant frequency. Such a move would be bad news for TOT which is hoping to source new revenue streams from 3G in the future.