NBTC planning to postpone 700MHz auction

19 Dec 2019

The telecoms committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has proposed the removal of the 700MHz band from the forthcoming 5G auction scheduled for 16 February, thus reducing the number of bands to be sold off to three. The Bangkok Post writes that the resolution will now be forwarded to the NBTC board for approval on 24 December. The frequencies that will be put up for auction in February will comprise the 1800MHz, 2600MHz and 26GHz bands, while the 700MHz band is now expected to be auctioned off separately in the future. The 700MHz airwaves are currently being used by broadcasting network providers, and need to be migrated to the 510MHz-690MHz range, though the transfer of the equipment has fallen behind, with the delay expected to last until November (instead of the original deadline of September).

Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, was quoted as saying that the committee also passed a resolution regarding payment terms for the 26GHz licences, agreeing to allow concession winners to postpone the payment of the whole licensing sum until the second year of licence award.

An unnamed source in the telecoms industry, meanwhile, said that the major telecoms operators are currently discussing whether or not to participate in the 5G spectrum auction. The source said that the multi-band licence auction is impractical in terms of 5G platform promotion, with reserve prices for the spectrum set too high. Mr Takorn confirmed that the three major mobile operators have submitted letters urging the NBTC to only auction the 2600MHz range, with more accommodating conditions for 5G infrastructure promotion; the NBTC was also asked to take into account the financial burdens of 3G and 4G licences shouldered by operators. Mr Takorn said that while he personally has no objections to holding a single-band auction, ‘such a resolution must be done through the NBTC’s management procedure and approved formally by the board.’