Thai spectrum cap lower than previously mooted; another auction delay looming?

9 Apr 2015

Thai telecoms regulator the NBTC has stated that the individual mobile frequency spectrum cap to be applied to the country’s cellcos will be set at 45MHz ahead of the 4Q15 1800MHz and 900MHz licence auctions, lower than the previously mooted 50MHz limit, while NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasit noted that the spectrum cap applies only to bandwidth which is in use and ‘not expiring within the next five years’, according to Telecom Asia. Five companies have so far lined themselves up to compete for four licensed blocks – two blocks of 12.5MHz in the 1800MHz band and two of 10MHz in the 900MHz range – namely existing private sector cellcos AIS, DTAC and True plus state-owned CAT Telecom and another Thai group, Jasmine International, parent of fixed network operator Triple T Broadband (3BB).

Meanwhile, another possibility of a further postponement to the already-delayed technology-neutral spectrum auction is possible, Telecom Asia adds. A ‘three month’ delay could be on the cards in order to accommodate DTAC’s offer of early return of an additional 1800MHz GSM block for re-auction as 4G spectrum, while the extra period could also be used to refarm spectrum so that standard 10MHz blocks in the 1800MHz range can be auctioned instead of the proposed 12.5MHz blocks, according to Boonyavat Kruahongs, chairman of the inspection and evaluation committee – a.k.a. the NBTC ‘superboard’.