NBTC sets 900-MHz auction for Dec 15

NBTC sets 900-MHz auction for Dec 15

The auction of two licences on the 900-megahertz spectrum will take place on Dec 15 as originally planned, says the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

After months of uncertainty, the resolution came after the NBTC's telecom committee yesterday finally approved the date for the auctions, said Col Settapong Malisuwan, vice-chairman of the NBTC.

The resolution, which came after public hearings, will be submitted to the NBTC board next week for endorsement.

The NBTC plans to auction two licences to provide fourth-generation (4G) wireless broadband services on the 900-MHz spectrum, each containing 10 MHz of bandwidth.

"We decided to sell the 900-MHz licences on Dec 15 in line with the original plan, which the cabinet had approved in March," said Col Settapong.

Earlier, the NBTC planned to auction the 900-MHz spectrum either on Nov 11, the same day as the 1800-MHz auction, or on Nov 10 or 12.

The regulator reasoned that auctioning both frequencies on the same day would help reduce licensing processes and speed up the rollout of 4G networks.

In addition, it could ease the period of negative sentiment on stock prices of those bidding companies who failed to win a 4G licence.

"We don't want to face any possible legal backlash if we hold the 900-MHz auction together with the 1800-MHz spectrum," Col Settapong said.

However, if the NBTC's office still wants to hold the 900-MHz auction on Nov 11, it might ask the cabinet to reconsider.

But this would mean a tight time schedule to hold the auctions on time, he added.

Col Settapong said the telecom committee also approved to increase the reserve price for a 900-MHz licence to 12.9 billion baht or 80% of the estimated real spectrum value.

The increase followed heavy criticism from academics and consumer protection groups who said the previous reserve price of 11.26 billion baht was too low.

However, winners of the 900-MHz licences will also have to roll out their 4G networks to cover half of the population within four years, increasing to 80% within eight years.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong would meet the NBTC's chairman on Monday to discuss the development plan for ICT infrastructure.

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