CAT board rejects return of 5 MHz

CAT board rejects return of 5 MHz

CAT Telecom's board has formally rejected its management's proposal to return five unused megahertz on the 1800-MHz spectrum to the national telecom regulator unconditionally for the fourth-generation (4G) auction, saying it would violate the law.

"If the regulator wants us to return the five-MHz block, it must allow us to provide 4G services on another unused 20 MHz of bandwidth on the 1800-MHz spectrum for seven years after our concession with Total Access Communication [DTAC] expires in 2018," said CAT acting president Sanpachai Huvanadana.

DTAC has 50 MHz on the 1800-MHz frequency for voice service, plus 10 MHz on the analogue 850-MHz frequency for data service. The company uses only 25 MHz on the 1800-MHz frequency.

Although DTAC's concession ends in 2018, CAT should be able to keep the unused 25 MHz until 2025 in accordance with the agency's licence agreement, Col Sanpachai said.

Earlier, CAT management had reached a formal agreement with DTAC to return the unused five MHz to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) without condition or compensation. But CAT's labour union recently gave the agency's board and management an ultimatum to accede to its three conditions before returning the unused block.

"We don't want to face a legal backlash after returning the unused block," said the board yesterday.

Col Sanpachai said CAT agreed the five MHz would benefit the industry and eliminate wasted spectrum, but felt it should get some benefits in exchange for the return. The NBTC insisted it does not have the authority to pay any compensation to state agencies for returning a portion of spectrum before the expiry of a concession.

The NBTC board will consider approved draft auction designs today, with a public hearing scheduled for July 18 before the details are published in the Royal Gazette by October.

Col Sanpachai plans to question at the public hearing whether the NBTC has the authority to auction the 25-MHz of bandwidth on the 1800-MHz spectrum, as it is still part of CAT's licence.

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