Bill to create new regulator rejected by MPs; joint panel to thrash out amendments

30 Sep 2010

Thailand’s House of Representatives yesterday rejected the Frequency Allocation Bill, the legislation which would clear the path to issue 2100MHz 3G mobile licences via the creation of a new regulator, the National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to replace the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). The Bangkok Post reports that the lower house of parliament voted against the current version of the bill as amended by the Senate, and the draft law must now be vetted by a joint House-Senate panel to be finalised. A majority of MPs objected to proposed changes by the Senate, which included increasing the NBTC’s number of commissioners from eleven to 15 by adding two experts in the field of security and one each in religious and social development affairs, whilst also voicing concerns over another proposed amendment which empowered the Office of the NBTC to be in charge of selecting the commissioners; a previous draft gave the Senate responsibility over the selection process. The special committee has not been issued with a time limit to deliberate the bill. The country’s planned auction of UMTS licences to private cellcos was suspended this month when a court upheld state-run CAT Telecom’s assertion that the NTC lacked the legal authority to award 3G frequencies.