The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is being urged to move ahead with a migration plan to integrate mobile users on networks whose concessions are due to expire.
On Sept 15, concessions for True Move, a unit of True Corporation, and Digital Phone, a unit of Advanced Info Service, are set to expire under agreements with state-owned CAT Telecom.
Deunden Nikomborirak, a member of the NBTC panel reviewing the 1800-MHz reallocation scheme, said the NBTC must set clear migration rules to minimise disruption in service to the estimated 17 million subscribers using the 1800-MHz bandwidth for 2G services with True Move and Digital Phone.
Overall, 25 MHz of spectrum now under CAT Telecom concessions will expire this September. Another 25 MHz in the 1800-MHz band is run by DTAC under a concession with CAT Telecom due to expire in five years.
Under the law, spectrum must revert to the NBTC once existing concessions expire. The NBTC then has the right to reallocate the bandwidth for public use.
Ms Deunden acknowledged that little progress has been made in setting up a regulatory framework for the transition of customers now using bandwidth under expiring concessions.
She said clear guidelines are needed well in advance to prevent confusion and to pave the way for an eventual auction of the 1800-MHz bandwidth.
CAT Telecom, if allowed to reuse the 25 MHz of spectrum once the existing True Move and Digital Phone deals expire, could either service 2G customers itself or find a private operator to do so on its behalf, Ms Duenden said.
In any case, the NBTC should direct both True Move and Digital Phone to inform 2G customers using the 1800-MHz band that service will end on Sept 15.
Both phone operators are expected to migrate existing 2G customers to new 3G networks after the auction of the 2100-MHz spectrum by the NBTC last year. The migration, however, may require some consumers to switch to 3G-enabled phones, a possible issue for some users.
Customers may also consider changing phone operators entirely. The NBTC requires phone operators to aid transfers of existing phone numbers from one operator to another under the number portability rule.
But the existing clearing house, set up by the mobile operators to aid number switching, is hindered by limited capacity and can handle just 4,000 transfers daily.
About the author
- Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana
Position: Senior Business Reporter