NBTC determined to stick to 1800MHz auction plan

23 Jul 2013

Settapong Malisuwan, the head of Thailand’s National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), has reaffirmed the regulator’s intention to re-auction 1800MHz band mobile spectrum in September 2014 under the legal basis of the Frequency Allocation Act, regardless of the threat of legal action from state-owned CAT Telecom, which claims it should have the right to retain the frequencies for itself, the Bangkok Post reports.

TeleGeography notes that 25MHz of 1800MHz spectrum is to be returned to the Thai regulator after 2G concessions expire in September this year: 12.5MHz apiece will be returned by True Corp’s True Move unit and Digital Phone Company, a subsidiary of Advanced Info Service (AIS), after their build-transfer-operate (BTO) concessions under CAT Telecom elapse, and the NBTC plans to package the 1800MHz frequencies in 4G-suitable licences. The watchdog also hopes to simultaneously re-auction 900MHz spectrum (potentially with a post-dated licence validity) being freed up when the 900MHz BTO concession spectrum issued by CAT’s sister telco TOT to AIS expires in September 2015. AIS has stated recently that it plans to migrate all 2G users to 3G/4G services as quickly as possible, and today – in a move reported by The Nation newspaper – the cellco backed up this statement by returning 3.43 million unwanted mobile phone numbers previously allocated to its BTO-based 2G (and 3G UMTS-900) 900MHz service to the NBTC as it focuses on signing up/migrating customers to its new 3G 2100MHz service provided under its full facilities-based network operating licence issued last December. The NBTC has so far granted the following volume blocks of phone numbers to the respective 2100MHz spectrum holding units of the country’s three private sector cellcos: 14 million numbers to AIS’s Advanced Wireless Network; ten million to True Corp’s Real Future; and eight million to DTAC TriNet (formerly DTAC Network).