NBTC gearing up for 5G auctions

30 Jan 2019

Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) is moving ahead with plans to auction 5G spectrum in the 2600MHz, 26GHz and 28GHz bands later this year, after the three main operators expressed no interest in bidding for 700MHz frequencies. Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, said that if the regulator were to auction only the 700MHz range this year, it could affect the adoption of 5G. The 2600MHz band is currently occupied by state-owned broadcaster MCOT, which has a total of 180MHz of spectrum bandwidth. MCOT has agreed to return the unused bandwidth of roughly 150MHz to the NBTC in exchange for compensation. Meanwhile, the 26GHz and 28GHz bands are partly occupied by satellite business provider Thaicom, though Mr Takorn added that the NBTC can reallocate 4GHz in the two bands for 5G use. A working team is currently working on the draft auction conditions for the planned 5G auction, with a deadline for the initial details set for February.

The NBTC is still planning to hold the 700MHz auction in May, as initially planned, with CAT Telecom the sole domestic operator to have disclosed plans to participate in the tender. The company is currently on the lookout for a strategic foreign partner.