NBTC drafts five-year master plan for Thai telecoms industry

Thailand’s regulator the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has drafted a five-year “master plan” for the telecoms industry focused on promoting new technologies and infrastructure sharing among operators.

The country’s current master plan is due to expire on 3 April 2017, and NBTC has began discussions with telecoms licence-holders and consumer groups on the new draft, which it expects to unveil in November.

The new plan will contain regulations to accommodate new technologies, such as 5G, and measures aimed at promoting market competition, according to executive director of telecommunication policy Sutisak Tantiyothin.

Thailand’s second largest mobile operator DTAC took part in a meeting held with the regulator, in which the Telenor-owned firm urged NBTC to set a time-frame for a new spectrum auction. DTAC claimed telecom operators need time to draw up future investment plans, and make the Thai mobile market more attractive to foreign investors.

The current draft of the master plan lists when existing spectrum will be released from its current license holders, but does not provide any specific auction dates. By 2025, there will be 865MHz bandwidth available for mobile phone services, compared with 420MHz available this year. 

Three spectrum bands are set to be available for auction in 2018. These include a pair of 45MHz bands of 1800MHz, and one 15MHz band of 2.1GHz. In 2022, one 40MHz band of 2.6GHz will be available, along with two 70MHz bands.

The following year will see a pair of 45MHz bands of 700MHz released, and in 2025, a pair of 10MHz bands of 450MHz will become available alongside a pair of 15MHz bands of 850 MHz, one 90MHz band of 1.5GHz, one 40MHz band of 1.8 GHz, and one 70MHz band of 2.3GHz.