Auctions of DTAC spectra set to be run by new NBTC

Auctions of DTAC spectra set to be run by new NBTC

The auction of the 1800- and 850-megahertz spectrum licences will have to be conducted by the new National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), whose members are in the process of being recruited by a National Legislative Assembly (NLA) selection committee.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said the move is to avoid a legal backlash as the six-year term of the existing NBTC commissioners ends tomorrow, after which the regulator will assume an acting role.

The two spectrum ranges are operated by Total Access Communication (DTAC) under the concessions of state-owned enterprise CAT Telecom and will expire on Sept 30 next year.

"I cannot predict when the new NBTC will be on board as it is up to the selection procedure," said Mr Takorn.

But he said NBTC officials will start the preparation process for the auctions next week by setting up a working panel to draft the design of the auctions, licensing detail and payment terms. The process, including a public hearing for the draft, is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

"The NBTC office will then submit the draft of the 1800 and 850MHz auctions to the new NBTC for consideration," said Mr Takorn.

He said officials will try their best to ensure the auctions of the two spectra will be held before DTAC's concession expires in order to prevent service disruption.

"The auctions of the 1800 and 850MHz spectra should be held in the first quarter 2018 or in the worst case scenario not later than August to ensure service stability," said Mr Takorn.

The new NBTC Act, which came into effect on June 23 this year, states the government must undertake a recruitment process for new NBTC commissioners.

But the new Act allows the existing NBTC to continue working with full authority in governing telecom and broadcasting business until Oct 6. After that it will become a provisional NBTC until a new commission is officially appointed.

The existing NBTC commissioners are facing a critical challenge on how they will continue their tasks as a provisional NBTC because it may not be able to execute any important policymaking decisions, including the planned auctions of the 1800 and 850MHz bandwidth.

The commissioners will hold a meeting on Oct 11 to consider a clear definition of its tasks during the transition period, Mr Takorn said.

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