NBTC cannot help DTAC with 1800MHz LTE request

25 Sep 2013

Thailand’s telecoms regulator has said it cannot assist the country’s second largest cellco by subscribers Digital Total Access Communication (DTAC) with a proposal to operate 4G LTE mobile broadband services using an existing portion of its 1800MHz spectrum issued under its 2G build-transfer-operate (BTO) concession with state-owned CAT Telecom. The Bangkok Post reports that the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) pointed out that DTAC instead needs to gain permission from CAT to utilise the currently unused 2×25MHz block (out of a total of 2×50MHz of 1800MHz spectrum plus 2×10MHz in the 850MHz band which expires in 2018) for LTE, as the watchdog has no authority to intervene in the matter. The alternative for DTAC is to return the 2×25MHz to the NBTC for re-auction under technology-neutral licences alongside rivals’ 1800MHz 2G spectrum which was freed up by the expiry of the BTO concessions of True Corp’s True Move division and AIS’ unit DPC this month, with a year transition period granted to migrate 2G 1800MHz users before the NBTC can begin the re-licensing process. True Corp has already launched 4G LTE services alongside its 3G W-CDMA/HSPA in the 2100MHz band (which theoretically DTAC and AIS could also do).