NBTC postpones spectrum auctions over legitimacy
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.