Thailand confirms July 4G auctions

The Thai regulator NBTC (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission) has confirmed that 4G spectrum auctions will take place in July 2015.

NBTC vice chairman Settapong Malisuwan has stated that the regulator will establish details in January for the auctions of 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum. Licensing this spectrum is an essential part of the government’s digital economy goals, and will also serve to increase capacity for operators.

The auction process – as well as the spectrum reserve prices – will be set by the ITU. Bidding for Thailand’s 4G spectrum has been continually delayed – echoing its 3G licensing process – with the country’s military government pushing the auctions into next year after assuming power in May.

In addition, the government has called for a review of the spectrum allocation method in order to improve the transparency of the process, part of a wider-reaching overhaul of the country’s telecoms laws.

While this could affect NBTC’s position, it intends to press ahead with the spectrum auctions. Settapong stated that the regulator “must be responsible for allocating spectrum for optimum benefit of the industry and the country”.

The regulator is also attempting to convince mobile operators to release their unused spectrum. Targets include AIS, which holds 17.5MHz of spectrum in the 900MHz band under a licence that expires in September 2015.

Two more operators – Digital Phone and True Move – will have to shut down networks in this month, having been granted permission to continue operating their 2G networks using expired 1800MHz spectrum. State-owned operator TOT has been denied its request to retain its 900MHz spectrum for a further 10 years after its concession expires in September 2015.


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