Thai regulator to auction unused 2600MHz spectrum 'for 5G'

6 Dec 2016

Thailand’s telecoms industry regulator the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) plans to auction off 80MHz of bandwidth in the 2600MHz band by June 2017, as the country gears up for the arrival of 5G services in the coming years. The Bangkok Post quotes the secretary-general of the NBTC, Takorn Tantasith, as saying that with the ‘next wave of mobile broadband service’ looking likely to be commercially available from 2020 onwards, the Thai authorities plan to ensure that domestic mobile operators ‘get more spectrum bandwidth to eventually enhance the country’s digital infrastructure’.

The 2600MHz frequencies in question currently belong to a company called MCOT, which owns no less than 190MHz of bandwidth. The NBTC is in talks with MCOT concerning a compensation plan for it to relinquish the frequencies; a draft plan is on the table and a new bill is expected to be published in early 2017 to allow a reallocation by mid-2017. Mr Takorn says the bill presents a ‘win-win solution for all parties’, promising MCOT financial recompense while freeing up precious bandwidth for national operators. The NBTC is looking to offer a minimum three concessions at 2600MHz, most likely comprising two licences of 25MHz and one of 30MHz. The official notes that a number of firms – including Thai quadruple-play operator True Corp’s strategic partner and part-owner China Mobile – have already requested that the watchdog prepare a clear roadmap of its 5G auction roadmap, and suggested that 2600MHz would be the ideal band to host it – in terms of wider compatibility considerations.