Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has tasked its legal advisory panel to study the feasibility of auctioning off an idle 25MHz block of 1800MHz spectrum currently held by Digital Total Access Communication (DTAC). According to a report by Nation Multimedia, the study will focus on three key issues: whether DTAC could hand over the dormant spectrum to the NBTC without the need to ask for permission from state-owned spectrum owner CAT Telecom; whether the NBTC could reclaim the spectrum; and whether the NBTC could auction off the spectrum before DTAC’s concession expires in September 2018.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, DTAC was founded in August 1989 and awarded a build-transfer-operate (BTO) contract by CAT Telecom the following November, giving it 2×50MHz in the 1800MHz frequency band, alongside 2×10MHz in the 850MHz range. The contract was originally set to run for 15 years but was extended in 1996 until the start of 2018. Under the agreement, DTAC pays CAT 30% of revenues (increased from 25% in September 2011 and 20% in September 2006).
November 2014 saw the NBTC confirm plans to stage an auction for 4G mobile spectrum permits in the 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum bands by September 2015, following the one-year postponement of its original plans imposed by the military government in June last year. True Corp and AIS subsidiary Digital Phone were allowed to continue using their 1800MHz frequencies to serve 2G mobile users for an extended period after the concessions expired in September 2013, while AIS’s 900MHz frequencies are due to expire in September 2015.