Believe it when you see it: regulator aims for 3G licensing by year-end

4 Mar 2011

Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) aims to hold an auction for 2100MHz 3G mobile licences by the end of this year, acting deputy head Natee Sokonrat told reporters yesterday, despite officially having no members yet. The NBTC – which is being formed to replace the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) under a law passed in December – is in the process of drafting plans for the telecoms sector, including frequency allocations, which are expected to be presented in May, paving the way for the much-delayed 3G auction. ‘The NBTC could start an auction for 3G licences on the 2.1GHz spectrum by the end of this year if the publication of the master plans has been announced,’ Natee said, adding that a permanent set of NBTC commissioners is currently under selection.

Thailand’s 3G mobile licence auction remains suspended following a decision on 23 September 2010 from the Supreme Administrative Court, which upheld the Central Administrative Court’s injunction ordering the NTC to freeze the auction process. The injunction was issued after state-run CAT Telecom submitted a petition citing a legal clause that the NTC lacked the authority to issue 2100MHz frequency concessions, meaning that 3G licensing must wait until the NBTC is formed. The Frequency Allocation Law was published in the Royal Gazette on 19 December 2010, stipulating the formation of an eleven-member NBTC within 180 days of the royal endorsement. All responsibilities that belonged to the NTC, as well as its assets, staff and budgets, are being transferred to the NBTC, whilst the NTC is effectively acting on behalf of the NBTC until the latter’s board is appointed.