Junta Claus?? Coup leaders fill sack with spectrum gifts for telcos on 'good list'

12 Dec 2014

Thailand’s military-run administration, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), has written to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to raise the possibility of allocating 4G LTE mobile spectrum to operators ‘committed to the greater good’ instead of through the regulator’s planned competitive auctioning process, Telecomasia reports. The NCPO, which came to power in a May 2014 coup, previously forced the suspension of the NBTC’s technology-neutral 900MHz/1800MHz licensing which had been planned for this year, whilst investigations into the level of transparency at the regulator were carried out, and the expected auction start date was revised to Q3 2015. The NBTC has set up a committee to look into the latest request from the NCPO and is expected to report back to the junta, led by Prime Minster General Prayuth Chan-ocha and his appointed cabinet by January. A government move to allocate ‘free’ spectrum would be likely to support state-run telcos CAT Telecom and TOT which have lobbied to keep control of frequencies previously issued under public-private 2G build-transfer-operate (BTO) agreements, although under current telecoms law spectrum allocation must be made by auction only.