Trio of priorities

Trio of priorities

Acting NBTC head is ready for the tasks at hand

Trairat Viriyasirikul, acting secretary-general of the NBTC.
Trairat Viriyasirikul, acting secretary-general of the NBTC.

The newly appointed acting secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) says crafting a method to grant satellite orbital slots for interested bidders and approaches for the 3400-3700 megahertz spectrum auction are among his priorities.

Trairat Viriyasirikul started work on July 1 after his predecessor Takorn Tantasith stepped down.

Another important task is to proceed with digitisation throughout operations and provide e-services, targeted to be complete by 2022, in line with the Thailand 4.0 policy, he said.

These three issues are among nine core policies and directives the NBTC office announced early this year, said Mr Trairat, who serves as acting secretary-general until the NBTC board members are appointed.

The cabinet last month approved the Digital Economy and Society Ministry's request to begin the process of recruiting new NBTC board members.

Mr Trairat said the NBTC office expects to finish the official draft to grant orbital slot licences to bidders by the end of this year and the licences will be handed out early next year.

The agency has yet to conclude whether the licences would be granted by auction or beauty contest, which concerns both technical and financial offers.

Seven orbital slots are subject to be given, comprising 50.5 degrees East, 51 E, 78.5 E, 119.5 E, 120 E, 126 E, and 142 E.

The first package consists of 50.5 E and 51 E and the second concerns 78.5 E. The third involves 119.5 E and 120 E and another concerns 126 E and 142 E.

The orbital slots in first and fourth packages are now unoccupied.

The 78.5 E and 119.5 E slots are being used by SET-listed satellite service operator Thaicom, whose satellite operation concession ends in 2021.

Thaicom operates two satellites under a revenue-sharing based concession regime: Thaicom 4 or iPSTAR, a broadband satellite; Thaicom 6 is a broadcasting satellite.

Regarding the 3400-3700MHz spectrum auction for telecom network, the range is now partly used by Thaicom 6 satellite and some foreign satellites.

The NBTC's technical team said there would be interference between satellite and mobile broadband signals if the plan presses ahead and that a guard band to prevent the interference for at least 100MHz of bandwidth may be needed.

Mr Trairat said further study will continue to find the most appropriate way to address signal interference with the least bandwidth of guard band.

Additionally, the NBTC will gear up efforts to work with related parties to put existing overhead cables into underground conduits in Bangkok in line with the government's policy.

"The NBTC has been entering a 180-degree transition, not only with the upcoming new board but also recent management changes," said Mr Trairat.

The NBTC office recently appointed four assistants to the secretary-general in line with the 2017 NBTC Act. It also nominated five specialised experts, the position at the same rank as deputy secretary-general.

He said the NBTC will reskill personnel and adjust operations and staff mindset to support the digital transformation.

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