Regulator rejects CAT-DTAC 1800MHz spectrum return plan

13 May 2015

Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has rejected outright the proposed settlement reached by state-owned CAT Telecom and mobile operator DTAC on returning unused 1800MHz frequencies for open auction, citing the reason that it wants to ‘ensure smooth fourth-generation (4G) spectrum auctions’, the Bangkok Post reports. NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith explained that the rejection of the proposal is aimed at ‘avoiding any potential risks that could expose the 4G auctions to further delays as the process of returning spectrum would take time’, arguing that: ‘We want the auctions of the 1800MHz and 900MHz spectra for 4G service to take place in November and December as scheduled.’ Mr Takorn also claimed the regulator had never received any official statement on the settlement from either party, stating: ‘What we’ve known for a considerable time was simply an informal agreement … We don’t want to take a risk.’ Thailand’s ICT ministry had announced that CAT had formally agreed to allow DTAC to return a 2×5MHz tranche of unused 1800MHz bandwidth for re-auction in the 4G auctions. The move would increase the 1800MHz spectrum block available in the auction to 2×30MHz, allowing licensed 15MHz block sizes, rather than the regulator’s planned block size of 12.5MHz which industry participants have labelled as inefficient.