PSI cites B10bn compensation for spectrum recall

PSI cites B10bn compensation for spectrum recall

TV satellite dishes installed on a rooftop of a building in the Yaowarat area. SEKSAN ROJJANAMETAKUN
TV satellite dishes installed on a rooftop of a building in the Yaowarat area. SEKSAN ROJJANAMETAKUN

As the telecom regulator will recall the 3500-megahertz spectrum range from broadcasting satellite services, more than 10 billion baht may be required to provide compensation for the replacement of signal-receiving devices on satellite dishes owned by 11 million household users of satellite TV services so they can continue to use the service, says satellite TV service operator PSI Corporation.

The devices, known as low-noise blockdown converters (LNBs), are mounted on satellite dishes used for satellite TV reception. They receive the radio waves from the dish and convert them into a signal that is sent via a cable to the receiver inside the building.

This initial compensation figure has been presented to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) as the regulator aims to auction off the spectrum range for telecom services, said Somporn Teerarochanapong, chairman of the PSI board.

The use of the frequency for 5G telecom service would affect the company's satellite TV subscribers due to signal interference, he said. The users will have to replace LNBs to continue using the service.

"Cost of replacement with the latest version of the devices, including service charges, is about 1,000 baht per unit," said Mr Somporn.

As the company's satellite dishes are sold outright to customers, the NBTC asked PSI to have active users registered to ascertain the number of active customers, he said.

The company has yet to make such a move since the NBTC's timeline for the 3500MHz spectrum auction remains uncertain.

"The company will do so when the right time comes. Now is too early since this could cause panic and misunderstanding among users," said Mr Somporn.

The NBTC aims to auction off the 3500MHz spectrum range for 5G service, following the first batch of frequency ranges put up for auction in February last year.

The 3500MHz spectrum is expected to be the most in demand range for 5G adoption among mobile operators. Eleven countries in Europe use the spectrum to provide 5G services.

The band is partly used by SET-listed satellite service provider Thaicom and some foreign satellites, whose transponder traffic is rented by Thaicom.

The rental is needed as the company's Thaicom 5 satellite was deorbited in February last year following a technical issue on its status notification system.

Thaicom's satellite-operating concession is due to end in September.

According to the NBTC, its technical teams indicated there would be interference between satellite and mobile broadband signals if the auction of the 3500MHz range presses ahead.

A guard band of 100MHz or more of bandwidth is needed to prevent the interference.

The NBTC may have to figure out remedy measures for satellite TV users who will be affected by the spectrum recall.

"It is now hard to hold the auction of the spectrum before Thaicom's concession expires. More importantly, the existing NBTC board is unlikely to approve any key issues since the recruitment of the new board members is now underway," said a source at the NBTC who requested anonymity.

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