NBTC launches spectrum reshuffle option

15 June 2018 | Natalie Bannerman

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has permitted the winners of the upcoming spectrum auction to swap with other operators in 1800MHz slots.

According to the Bangkok Post the scheme from the Thailand regulator could encourage Advanced Info Service (AIS), Thailand's largest GSM mobile phone operator, to enter the auction to exchange its new slot with True Move for better frequency efficiency.

Back in 2015, NBTC’s existing secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said that two licenses in the in the 1800MHz spectrum, were auctioned, each containing 30MHz of bandwidth.

"Spectrum allocated on the same frequency over different periods bring advantages and disadvantages to operators. The NBTC is allowing the winner of August's 1800MHz licence to negotiate with other operators The NBTC is allowing the winner of August's 1800MHz licence to negotiate with other operators to change their spectrum slots," said Tantasith.

Only last year Tantasith announced that he was stepping down from the position to join the Election Commission and that there are currently four deputy secretary-generals any of which are the preferred successors to for the role.

As for the first 2015 auction, True Move won the 1710-1725MHz slot for upload and 1805-1820MHz for download, while AIS while AIS won the second slot of 1725-1740MHz for upload and 1820-1835MHz for download. 

The 1800MHz auction is due to take place on 4 August for the three licences bands adjacent to the 2015 auction slots - 1835-1850, 1850-1865 and 1865-1880MHz. Though this is reported to have changed since True Move sent a letter to the Stock Exchange of Thailand saying that it would not be participating and therefore only one band is now rumoured to be up for bid.  Leaving only two AIS and Total Access Communication (DTAC) in the ring as to potential bidders.

Under the terms of the auction rules the number of qualified bidders must exceed the number of licences to be auctioned. If only there is only one qualified bidder the auction must be extended for 30 days to find more participants, beyond that 30 day period the one bidder may make their offer, but only bidding once.

"Under the N-1 rule in the auction's conditions, the NBTC can auction only one licence because there are not more than two prospective bidders for the auction," explained Tantasith.

As a result of True Move withdrawing, the remaining two licenses will be held back for the next auction which could take between 1-2 years to prepare for.

Tantasith also revealed that the NBTC will soon auction off the licence for 740-1755MHz for upload and 1835-1850MHz for download. The range is particularly strategic because of its position adjacent to the 1800-MHz slots. The regulator is hoping to attract AIS to the auction for this slot to improve competitiveness in the proceedings.

As for the DTAC,  because it failed to win any spectrum in the 2015 auction it has to secure some slots in the upcoming one otherwise its 850-MHz and 1800-MHz will expire on 300 September shutting down the large majority of its mobile services.

Topics: National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, NBTC, Advanced Info Service, True Move, Takorn Tantasith, Spectrum, Frequency, 2G, 3G