NBTC reverts to original spectrum auction plans

3 Apr 2018

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has decided to return to its original plans of auctioning three paired 15MHz blocks of spectrum in the 1800MHz band with a starting price of THB37.45 billion (USD1.2 billion), rather than tendering nine blocks of 5MHz in the band at THB12.485 billion. The Bangkok Post writes that the move was in response to prospective bidders’ claim that the amended draft will hurt their long-term business strategies, assuming operations under a 30MHz (2×15MHz) licensing scheme. NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith also said that the NBTC will ban JAS Mobile Broadband from the auction, as the company defaulted on the payment of its licence in March 2016. The spectrum (1800MHz and 850MHz) on sale is currently utilised by Digital Total Access Communications (DTAC) under a build-transfer-operate (BTO) revenue-sharing agreement with state-owned telco CAT Telecom (expiring in September 2018).

The NBTC originally planned to sell the frequencies in an auction scheduled to be held by May 2018, though the plans were put on hold pending the Council of State’s position on whether the NBTC has authority to call for bids as an acting regulator. The six-year term of the existing commissioners ended on 7 October 2017, but the new NBTC law allowed them to continue in the same capacity until they are replaced. In late March the Council of State affirmed that the acting regulator had the authority to call for bids, though no date for the tender has been set.