Thai 4G auctions face delay due to legislature holdup

Thailand could see its 4G auctions delayed into 2016 unless new digital economy legislation is passed by April.

The Bangkok Post quoted an anonymous committee member as saying that there was “no guarantee that [bidding for] 4G will even be rescheduled in the absence of the digital economy laws.” The digital economy initiative has been beset with problems, with many increasingly convinced that it may never see the light of day.

Thailand’s Council of State has requested that changes of a “practical” nature be made to the legislation. These include the deputy prime minister chairing the Digital Economy Policy Committee - rather than the prime minister – and cutting the proposed number of committee members from 32 down to 12.

The amendments reflect wider modifications to various draft bills that are being implemented after the proposals met with heavy public criticism. The cyber-security bill was particularly unpopular, as it would have allowed the Cyber Security Commission access to all digital information accrued by the country’s service providers without the currently required court order.

All three major Thai operators have made it clear to the country’s government that they do not wish to see the 4G auctions delayed into next year, as their current capacity levels are struggling to cope with an explosion in data traffic. The regulator has supported this view, saying that it aims to hold the auctions this year.

Originally planned for August 2014, the ruling military junta has delayed the auction of 900MHz and 1.8GHz spectrum by a year on the grounds that the frequency act should allow for more transparency.

Boonyavat Kruahongs, chairman of a five-person committee that safeguards the independence of regulator NBTC, said that the regulator “must remain unaffected to prevent third-party intervention, particularly from politicians, in the frequency allocation process.”

 

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