Calls mount to speed up NBTC board appointment

Calls mount to speed up NBTC board appointment

Calls are mounting for the speedy appointment of credible board members for the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) as they face several trying issues.

The application period for the job concluded on Oct 28, which drew 80 applicants. The Senate secretariat is in the process of verifying their qualifications. The list of qualified candidates will be passed on to the Senate for selection.

Based on the NBTC Act, the seven seats on the NBTC board must come from seven different fields: telecom, broadcasting, TV business, law, engineering, economics and consumer protection.

Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said his organisation wants to see the new NBTC board as soon as possible as it can help push innovation and technology adoption among vertical industries, especially as Thailand is the first mover of 5G commercial adoption in Asean.

It is hoped that the NBTC can help reduce the digital divide and support easy access to digital infrastructure for people to boost digital adoption rather than seeking out optimum benefits from the spectrum licence auctions, he said.

He was speaking in a seminar entitled "New commissioners, regulatory direction and economic transformation", organised by Matichon media group yesterday.

Somkiat Tangkitvanich, president of the Thailand Development Research Institute, said the NBTC plays a key role in allocating digital resources, such as spectrum bands, which serve as the digial backbone infrastructure for the internet economy.

The transparency of its decision-making process is the first priority in the eyes of social and business sectors, he said.

"Board members are expected to be professionals with knowledge and skills," Mr Somkiat said. "They need to work out reasonable regulations for future investment and business plans for the private sector."

He said several chronically unsettled issues need to be tackled by the new board.

They include community radio operations which have still been running on a trial basis for years while there is no clear guideline on how and when the auction of the operations would happen.

Meanwhile, several existing regulations are seen to render inefficient implementation, he said.

For example, although mobile users have been allowed to switch mobile operators with the same mobile phone number for years, many of them face inconvenience as the operators still fail to fully facilitate the process since they are afraid of losing customers.

Suchatvee Suwansawat, rector of King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, said the new board should not only have the knowledge and skills to shape the regulatory framework but should serve as designers for what could happen in the future.

He said the regulator with "designer" feature could come up with regulations that can add more value to the business sector and boost the country's competitiveness.

Pisut Ngamvijitvong, senior director of the analysis department at Kasikorn Securities, agreed that new NBTC board members should be named quickly to end the decision-making vacuum at the agency.

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