Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has given state-owned telco TOT the green light to develop 4G LTE services using its existing 2300MHz-2400MHz spectrum for the next ten years, the Bangkok Post reports. The strategy will help TOT create new revenue streams to offset lost build-transfer-operate (BTO) concession revenues, the NBTC’s secretary-general Takorn Tantasith claimed, after the watchdog’s telecom committee approved TOT’s 4G proposal on Thursday. Mr Takorn added that TOT is permitted to develop 60MHz of bandwidth for commercial 4G services nationwide (out of a 64MHz block held by TOT – 4MHz being of limited technical usefulness). The frequency range has previously been partly utilised for public telephony services and transmission links. ‘TOT will have the right to use the 2400MHz spectrum to operate wireless broadband service until 2025 without an operating licence,’ confirmed Takorn.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that in March 2012 the NBTC indicated (without confirming) that it would grant TOT permission to continue using certain existing wireless frequencies which are not covered by licences, and whilst awaiting final regulatory approval TOT has held trials of Time Division (TD)-LTE 2300MHz services, including a partnership project with cellular market leader Advanced Info Services (AIS) in H1 2012. It has recently been reported that the regulator and government are looking to appease TOT with incentives including concessions and loans to avoid the telco carrying out its threat to launch court action against next month’s 900MHz licence auction, which involves the reallocation of frequencies originally issued by TOT to AIS under a build-transfer-operate (BTO) agreement which expired in September.