NBTC post­pones spec­trum auc­tions over le­git­i­macy

Bangkok Post - - BUSINESS - KOMSAN TORTERMVASANA

The board of the Na­tional Broad­cast­ing and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion (NBTC) passed a res­o­lu­tion to post­pone the planned auc­tion of the 1800- and 850-mega­hertz spec­trum for an­other 60 days. The board said it wants its author­ity to con­duct the auc­tion to be con­firmed by the Coun­cil of State.

The move is in­tended to en­sure the auc­tion is le­git­i­mate, prevent­ing any le­gal back­lash for the in­volved par­ties.

NBTC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Takorn Tan­t­a­sith said the NBTC of­fice sub­mit­ted a let­ter to the Coun­cil of State in De­cem­ber ask­ing whether the ex­ist­ing NBTC board could hold the auc­tion as sched­uled.

The reg­u­la­tor plans to auc­tion 10MHz of band­width on the 850MHz spec­trum and 90MHz of band­width on the 1800MHz spec­trum this year. The orig­i­nal auc­tion drafts were ap­proved by the NBTC board and un­der­went a public hear­ing in De­cem­ber.

The author­ity of the ex­ist­ing NBTC board needs to be ap­proved by the Coun­cil of State be­cause its six-year work­ing term ex­pired in Oc­to­ber 2017.

The new NBTC Act came into ef­fect in June 2017, re­quir­ing that the gov­ern­ment form a new NBTC board. The ex­ist­ing of­fi­cers can carry out the board’s func­tions un­til new of­fi­cers are ap­pointed.

The 1800- and 850MHz spec­trum ranges are now op­er­ated by To­tal Ac­cess Com­mu­ni­ca­tion (DTAC) un­der con­ces­sions from state-owned CAT Tele­com.

Those con­ces­sions will ex­pire on Sept 30. Mr Takorn said the NBTC board mem­bers yes­ter­day had dif­fer­ent opin­ions on the mat­ter, some say­ing they had the author­ity to hold the auc­tion, while oth­ers ar­gued that Coun­cil of State ap­proval was needed.

“I be­lieve the ex­ist­ing NBTC board can con­duct the auc­tion, but if the [board] agrees that the pro­ce­dure should be de­layed, the NBTC should not do any­thing,” he said.

If the NBTC gets a green light from the Coun­cil of State, the auc­tion will move ahead as sched­uled in June. If the coun­cil ob­jects, the auc­tion will be con­ducted by the new NBTC board.

If there is no re­sponse from the Coun­cil of State within 60 days, the NBTC board will con­vene a spe­cial meet­ing to re­solve the is­sue.

Mr Takorn said the NBTC orig­i­nally planned to con­duct the auc­tion in June and award li­cences to the win­ners by July 2018, or two months ahead of the ex­piry of DTAC’s con­ces­sion, to avoid ser­vice dis­rup­tions.

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