Decree aids telcos’ spectrum management

25-Nov-2021 Intellasia | BangkokPost | 7:19 AM Print This Post

Put into effect recently, a royal decree that supports convergence of technologies for the benefit of the country is expected to make it easier for spectrum management by telecom operators.

The royal decree was formulated based on Section 30 of the amended National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) Act to support tech and innovation ecosystem.

The decree gives more flexible criteria for the operators to apply additional business licences, transfer spectrum licences and obtain spectrum licences via other methods apart from auctions.

The move means spectrum holders can trade off spectrum ranges or some parts of spectrum capacity, making it more flexible for the operators to create partnership deals for spectrum usage.

Meanwhile, National Telecom (NT) has spurned the option of returning its 700-megahertz spectrum licence to the NBTC and there is a likelihood that it will operate the mobile service on the spectrum range through a certain scale and partnership with other carriers.

NT, which was formed through the merger of CAT Telecom and TOT in January, obtained the 700-MHz spectrum licence through CAT Telecom, which participated in the 5G spectrum licence auction held in February 2020.

NBTC board member Prawit Leesathapornwongsa said the decree is meant to benefit the tech and innovation ecosystem, particularly spectrum usage by telecom and broadcast sectors.

He said the NBTC received recommendations from the House of Representatives and the Senate to add the definition of “technology convergence” stipulated in the legislation as the infusion of technologies for the benefit of the country, people and economy.

The NBTC office has also drafted four new regulations that will support the royal decree, encompassing an amendment to the Spectrum Management Master Plan, criteria for applying for business licences, criteria for spectrum licence transfer as well as criteria for allocating spectrum ranges apart from auctions.

These regulations are likely to take effect by the end of this year, Prawit said.

According to Prawit, the formulation of the decree was partly driven by the case in which state-owned broadcaster MCOT had to return the 2600-MHz spectrum it held to the NBTC for the 5G licence auction in February last year, though its concession was due to expire in 2022.

The decree is important as spectrum ranges need to be used for optimum benefits, he said.

In a related development, Digital Economy and Society (DES) minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn told the Bangkok Post he was informed by NT management that the return of the 700-MHz range to the NBTC is now out of the equation.

NT has yet to come up with a strategic plan for 5G business despite paying for the first instalment of the 700-MHz licence early this year.

Three options were earlier raised by NT to deal with this spectrum range, comprising operating its own service under the NT Mobile brand, selling spectrum capacity to partners and returning the licence.

“NT management and board are now likely to move ahead with its own service but only on a smaller scale than its capacity and seeking partners for the rest,” Chaiwut said.

NT is in talks with Advanced Info Service (AIS) and True Move H Universal Communication (TUC) for their initial proposals for the conditions of a partnership through NT’s 700-MHz band investment with their 2600-MHz networks and cellular stations. The talks have yet to reach the final stage.


Category: Thailand

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