NBTC may scrap 26GHz auction for 5G

NBTC may scrap 26GHz auction for 5G

Stockholm: The telecom regulator is considering shelving February's planned auction of 26GHz spectrum meant for the 5G network on concerns about use case development and support of related equipment.

The news came after the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) met officials of the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) in Stockholm on Tuesday.

PTS's management opined that the 26GHz spectrum meant for the 5G network still has undeveloped use cases and unclear support of related terminal equipment.

In contrast, the 2600MHz range has handset support and has been used commercially for 5G service in China, according to PTS.

"The 26-28GHz range is likely to be suspended for auction," said NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith. "But the NBTC will gauge public feedback from its website from Nov 13 to Dec 23 and have a grand public hearing on Dec 3."

Mr Takorn said some mobile operators have indicated that they might not be interested in bidding on the range.

The NBTC board on Monday approved holding auctions for four spectrum ranges meant for 5G on Feb 16. The four ranges are 700MHz, 1800MHz, 2600MHz and 26GHz.

Mr Takorn insisted that the NBTC must press ahead with the February auctions to ensure Thailand's competitiveness and support the goal of becoming an innovation hub in the region.

Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam plan to launch 5G service in 2020, he noted.

"We cannot prolong the auction," Mr Takorn said.

Anna Beckius, head of spectrum analysis at PTS, said the NBTC's planned 5G licence auction demonstrates a quick pace of innovation adoption via a clear multi-band auction timeline.

She acknowledged that Thailand is under pressure from neighbouring countries in the 5G race.

PTS auctioned the 700MHz range in November 2018 in a bid to promote 5G adoption, but 5G service has yet to launch in Sweden.

PTS plans to auction the 3500MHz and 2300MHz ranges in the second half of 2020, after which the 26GHz and 1500MHz ranges would be next.

There are four mobile operators in Sweden.

Ms Beckius said PTS's objective is to ensure optimal long-term benefit for the public from the use of radio spectra in the country.

"PTS has no objective to maximise revenue from the auction," she said, adding that coverage obligation and competition are always prioritised.

Nadine Allen, the president of Ericsson Thailand, said the company supports the planned 5G auctions by the NBTC because they could bring benefits to the industry and serve digital economy development, particularly the Eastern Economic Corridor scheme.

She said Ericsson forecasts 1.9 billion 5G subscriptions globally in 2024.

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