Trio call for NBTC to focus on 2600MHz
Move would assure 5G auction success
The three major mobile operators are pressuring the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to auction off only the 2600MHz spectrum in February's 5G licence auctions instead of four bands, saying the move would better ensure the success of the auction.
The demand was relayed by the top management of the three operators at a recent meeting with NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith. The operators are Advanced Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Move H Universal Communication (TUC).
Mr Takorn said the three operators are likely to submit an official letter to the NBTC this week.
He said the regulator has not determined a response to the demand.
"We have to wait for the NBTC board to consider the matter on Dec 24," Mr Takorn said.
He said the commission is concerned about the operators' request.
"The NBTC will make a decision based on what provides the optimum benefit for the industry and the country," Mr Takorn said.
If the NBTC maintains the auction for the four spectrum range licences on Feb 16 and only the 2600MHz range sees bids, that would not be a good result, he said.
The trio also urged the NBTC to stipulate that the 2600MHz range must be used only for the 5G network, as the current auction draft does not have this clause.
Mr Takorn said that if the NBTC decides to proceed with an auction only for the 2600MHz range, it's possible that winners will be granted a 10-year instalment plan for payment for licence fees if they agree to use the range only for the 5G network.
Winning bidders that want to use the range for 3G or 4G networks would be obliged to pay instalments over four years -- 25% of the winning price in the first year, 25% in the third year and 50% in the fourth year.
Under the current multi-band auction structure, 10% of the winning price per licence must be paid within the first year of the licence being handed over.
A grace period for payment would be given to operators from the second to the fourth years.
For the fifth to 10th years, an annual instalment payment of 15% of the remaining licence cost must be made by operators.
The NBTC has announced plans to auction four spectrum ranges on Feb 16: 15MHz of bandwidth on the 700MHz band, 35MHz on the 1800MHz band, 190MHz on the 2600MHz band and 2700MHz on the 26GHz band.
The three operators also expressed concern that 20MHz of bandwidth on the 2600MHz range is still being used by the army's security agency. They worry about facing restrictions in using the band after the auctions.
Mr Takorn said the NBTC's technical team has talked with the security agency about the spectrum recall and there is a plan for the agency to use a new range instead.
The agency uses the bandwidth for a communication system using a microwave link or fixed link network, he said, making the arrangement unlikely to interfere with spectrum usage by telecom operators, as the transmission is done in a straight line between the two microwave poles.