DTAC drags feet on 700MHz decision

DTAC drags feet on 700MHz decision

Total Access Communication (DTAC) appears uninterested in purchasing a new 700-megahertz licence in exchange for a five-year extension on payment terms under Section 44, based on statements from DTAC's chief executive calling the sale "too rushed".

The company has insisted the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) should adhere to DTAC's long-repeated proposal urging the regulator to delay new spectrum allocation until the NBTC can come up with a clear spectrum roadmap.

Alexandra Reich, chief executive of DTAC, said the planned 700MHz allocation is too rushed, despite the spectrum range being available as early as December 2020 after existing digital TV operators transfer from the 700MHz range to other spectrum, as planned by the regulator.

"The reserve price for the planned licence sale is set to be announced today," she said.

"We are monitoring and will start evaluating all related factors for a final answer."

Previously, the NBTC released an informal reserve price for a 700MHz licence of 25-27 billion baht for 15MHz of bandwidth.

A price of 25 billion baht per 15MHz of bandwidth is much lower than 38 billion per 5MHz of bandwidth on the 900MHz band DTAC won in an auction last year.

However, 25 billion baht is still very expensive for DTAC, she said.

Hakon Bruaset Kjol, senior vice-president for Asian partner and external relations at Telenor Group, a major DTAC shareholder, said price is not the only factor the company is considering.

Mr Kjol said a spectrum roadmap is very important because it will directly help telecoms make precise evaluations on an investment management plan as well as predicting the impact from infrastructure investment on the company.

"Unlike in the past, this spectrum roadmap concerns a basket of spectrum that telcos could use to plan and evaluate investments, because one range is not confined to only one technology," he said.

Last week, the three major mobile operators, including DTAC, submitted proposals to reserve the right to buy the planned 700MHz licences allocated for sale under Section 44, in exchange for the 900MHz licence payments being delayed by five years.

The three operators have been given a deadline of June 8 to submit proposals on whether they want to purchase the 700MHz licence and extend their 900MHz payments.

There is no penalty for submitting an initial proposal and not purchasing the licence before the deadline on June 8.

On Monday, Telenor Group released a study claiming telecommunications-intensive sectors contributed between 65-75% of total economic growth for Asia.

For Thailand, the economic value added from telecommunications-intensive sectors doubled from around US$350-400 billion in 2005 to almost $700 billion in 2015.

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