Thailand’s regulator NBTC is considering repurposing spectrum to allow for LTE Advanced rollouts.
The eager attitude towards launching LTE could be seen as a reaction to Thailand’s ongoing difficulties in deploying 3G mobile broadband.
Some of the spectrum in question – a 25MHz block in the 1.8GHz band – is currently free, having been used in the past by True Move and Digital Phone Company, a subsidiary of AIS. However, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission is also looking to repurpose 17.5MHz of AIS’s 900MHz spectrum.
Parties interested in the spectrum would be able to make a single bid covering several frequencies or licences. This “package bidding concept” is applicable to LTE Advanced as the technology allows the channels in different frequencies to be aggregated; for example an operator could use the 900MHz and 1.8GHz bands in unison to offer faster mobile broadband connectivity.
NBTC chairman Settapong Malisuwan said that the regulator’s telecom committee was investigating the practicality of package bidding, noting that if it proved feasible then Thailand could leapfrog 4G and go straight to “4.5G”, i.e. LTE Advanced.
The ITU has partnered with the NBTC to conduct the study into potential licensing models, as well as advising on spectrum values and reserve prices. Thailand’s 3G auctions – held in October 2012 after numerous delays – generated THB41.63 billion (US$1.36 billion).