NBTC committee approves spectrum ceiling for 4G auction

NBTC committee approves spectrum ceiling for 4G auction

The national telecom regulator has agreed to impose a spectrum cap as a condition for fourth-generation (4G) frequencies to be auctioned this year.

The telecom committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) approved the cap yesterday, calling for each operator to have maximum spectrum of 60 megahertz including for the 4G spectrum auctions.

"We will add the spectrum cap details to our draft auction designs for 4G, scheduled to take place in November and December," said Col Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the telecom committee.

The committee will raise the spectrum cap details at the NBTC's board meeting for endorsement next week.

Then the NBTC will hold a public hearing on the details of the 4G auction design including the spectrum cap details on July 18.

The NBTC initially plans to allocate four licences for the 4G spectrum auctions, with two comprising 12.5 MHz of bandwidth each on the 1800-MHz spectrum, and two of 10 MHz each on the 900-MHz spectrum.

The auction for the 1800-MHz spectrum will take place on Nov 11, while the 900-MHz auction will be held on Dec 15.

Col Settapong said the spectrum cap was aimed at promoting a level playing field among operators and preventing excessive bandwidth holding in a particular frequency range.

The cap would apply only to telecom frequencies including those either under concessions or the licence system. It covers frequencies ranging from 470-2600 MHz, he said.

Col Settapong said a single telecom operator with more than 60 MHz of bandwidth could still participate in the 4G auctions, but a winning bidder must return any excess amount of bandwidth if its overall spectrum exceeds 60 MHz.

Second-ranked mobile operator Total Access Communication Plc (DTAC) has the most bandwidth with 75 MHz, followed by leader Advanced Info Service Plc with 32.5 and True Move with 30 MHz.

If DTAC won 12.5 MHz in the 1800-MHz spectrum auction, its total bandwidth would increase to 87.5 MHz. The company must return at least 12.5 MHz to the NBTC initially, then return the excess 15 MHz of old bandwidth to keep its overall spectrum at 60 MHz, Col Settapong said.

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