WiMAX licensing mooted for next February

20 Apr 2010

Thailand’s National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) plans to grant licences to provide wireless broadband access services, including WiMAX, in February 2011, according to local newspaper The Nation. The regulator’s board has appointed member Natee Sukonrat as chairman of a special committee to study ways of granting the licences, whilst another NTC source said that according to the commission’s time frame, the process – from the planned studies to the awarding of concessions – would take eleven months, starting this month. The NTC will examine the need to grant WiMAX licences and possible impacts from doing so. It must also work out a process by which it will take frequency spectrum back from state agencies that are currently using it. Meanwhile, it will write terms of reference for the hiring of a consultant to assess the value of the spectrum, and the consultant’s report will be submitted for consideration by NTC’s board in November. The watchdog will begin accepting applications in late November ahead of licence awards in February next year, the source said. Last year, the NTC hired a World Bank consultant to study regulations and licensing of new technology services and possible impacts from spectrum licensing. The outcome of the study was submitted to the commission last November. If the NTC decides to grant WiMAX licences in the 2.3GHz band, it must draw up a plan to reallocate around 100MHz of bandwidth, currently owned by state entities: fixed line, broadband and 3G mobile operator TOT with 64MHz, military agencies using a combined 30MHz, and international telecoms, broadband and CDMA mobile provider CAT Telecom (4MHz). The 2.5GHz spectrum band is partially used by broadcasters. Earlier this month the NTC approved a timeframe for granting 2100MHz 3G mobile network operating licences, in a process tentatively scheduled to finish in November 2010.