ITU to draw up plan for 1800MHz, 900MHz bands; 470MHz recall to pave way for 700MHz awards

11 Jun 2013

The telecom committee of Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is currently examining the terms of reference to hire the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as a consultant to draw up a plan for re-auctioning the 1800MHz mobile spectrum band, including a potential scheme for auctioning 1800MHz and 900MHz bands simultaneously, The Nation reports. 1800MHz allocations utilised under build-transfer-operate (BTO) concessions issued by state-owned CAT Telecom to True Corp’s True Move unit and Advanced Info Service’s (AIS’s) Digital Phone Co subsidiary expire on 15 September this year, while a similar 1800MHz concession issued to Digital Total Access Communication (DTAC) runs until 2018; the 900MHz BTO concession spectrum issued by CAT’s sister telco TOT to AIS expires in 2015. A committee source quoted by The Nation says that the consultant is expected to take six months to complete the draft plan, while the consultation fee is expected to be THB25 million (USD812,000), the same fee the NBTC paid to consultancy Nera for developing 2100MHz licensing regulations last year. If the telecom committee approves the ITU contract, it is expected to take 14 months to finish all processes related to the 1800MHz re-auction.

Last week, the telecom committee approved draft measures to provide continuing service for the combined approximately 18 million GSM 1800MHz users of True Move and AIS (DPC) after the concessions end in September. Under the draft measures CAT will lease the existing GSM 1800MHz network to a third-party for one year; the committee will specify next month which party will be assigned to oversee these customers.

In other mobile spectrum matters this week, the NBTC is forming a subcommittee next month to discuss its plan to recall the 470MHz-510MHz spectrum band for reallocation to digital TV broadcasters, to pave the way for reallocating the 700MHz (700MHz-790MHz) band for mobile broadband usage, the Bangkok Post reports. TOT currently uses the 470MHz band for wireless in the local loop (WiLL) telephony, while several analogue TV broadcasters also use part of the band. The NBTC is reportedly aiming to ‘swap’ the 700MHz band (currently reserved for digital TV) with the 470MHz range.