Thai state broadcaster wants massive compensation for spectrum

Thai state broadcaster wants massive compensation for spectrum

Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is planning to auction 5G spectrum in the 2600MHz, 26GHz and 28GHz bands later this year, but getting hold of that spectrum could be costly.

NBTC will need to recover some of the unused frequencies in these bands, notably the 2600MHz band, which is currently occupied by state-owned broadcaster MCOT. MCOT has a total of 180MHz of spectrum bandwidth but, according to local news reports, is requesting about $1.6 billion as compensation for the handover of 144MHz of its unused 2600MHz spectrum to telecoms regulator.

The Bangkok Post reported recently that MCOT president Kematat Paladesh told the Bangkok Post the proposal was sent to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) in July. The regulator wants the frequency range for 5G mobile internet adoption scheduled for 2020.

Mr Kematat has suggested that the compensation is based on a calculation about business opportunity for this spectrum, although the bandwidth has not so far been used.

One of MCOT’s key revenues comes from a subcontract granting Bangkok Entertainment the operation of analogue TV Channel 3. That expires next year, although the Bangkok Post reports that the loss of the annual payment of about $3.3 million from the deal is not the reason for the compensation calculation, according to MCOT.

NBTC commissioner Prawit Leesathapornwongsa has already said that the figure is too high, though there is expected to be an appraisal process for the claim. Given comments from the GSMA, among other groups, about the damaging effects of overpriced spectrum, it will be interesting to see how this plays out and whether it affects next year’s auction. 

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