Act reduces Thai regulator’s autonomy; DTAC abstains from 900MHz re-auction

25 Apr 2016

Thailand’s military-backed cabinet has approved a law – the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Act – which hands control of the formerly independent telecoms regulator, the National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to the new Digital Economy Commission chaired by the Prime Minister. The Act also introduces a single seven-member board for the NBTC, replacing the existing dual broadcasting and telecoms boards. As reported by TelecomAsia, NBTC commissioner selection will be via a committee consisting of the president of the constitutional court, the president of the supreme court, the president of the administrative court, chairman of the national anti-corruption commission, the auditor-general, the chairman of the national human rights commission and the governor of the Bank of Thailand. The committee will select 14 individuals which are passed to new Digital Economy Ministry (formerly the ICT Ministry) which will forward them to the senate for selection before the final choice is then sent to the Prime Minister. The act also stipulates that the NBTC must follow the policy of the Digital Economy Commission and abide by the government policy statement. In a transitional period, the existing NBTC will continue until commissioners’ terms finish in September 2017 (‘unless there are less than four NBTC board members remaining in which case the entire NBTC board will be considered expired’).

Meanwhile, Thailand’s second largest cellco DTAC has confirmed it will not participate in the upcoming re-auction of 900MHz spectrum. Rivals AIS and True have both picked up bid documents for the auction set for 27 May, which carries a reserve price of THB75.65 billion (USD2.16 billion).