The board of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) voted unanimously on Sept 21 for a resolution to amend the master plan for the allocation of rights to use the country's satellite orbits.
The NBTC office expects to begin a public hearing on the plan's amendment within 30 days, in response to the resolution.
A source on the board who requested anonymity told the Bangkok Post that the purpose of the amendment was to create more practical ways to allocate orbit rights as existing rules only allow for auctions.
The amendment should also facilitate the planned allocation of two unsold satellite orbits following a licence auction earlier this year, said the source.
On Jan 15, the NBTC held the country's first auction of the use of satellite orbit slots through five packages: 50.5° East and 51°E orbital slots with a starting price of 374 million baht; 78.5°E with a reserve price of 360 million baht; 119.5°E and 120°E with a reserve price of 397 million baht; 126°E with 8.6 million baht as the reserve price; and 142°E with 189 million baht as the reserve price.
Space Tech Innovation, an affiliate of SET-listed Thaicom, won the second package for 380 million baht and the third package for 417 million baht. State enterprise National Telecom won the fourth package for 9.07 million baht. The first and fifth packages were unsold.
The source said the NBTC's subcommittee for satellite business will propose all related details of the amended conditions of satellite orbit allocation to the NBTC's next board meeting on Oct 4.
Previously, NBTC commissioner AM Thanapant Raicharoen said the regulator was expected to allocate the remaining two orbit slots by end of this year.
The NBTC's subcommittee for satellite business had earlier reached a preliminary conclusion to allocate the unsold satellite orbit slots through a beauty contest method, which comprises awarding the licences to firms with the most promising business proposals and benefits to the state.
Interested bidders would be required to pay only a reserve price for each of the slots as a minimum payment to the state. The subcommittee will determine whether the existing reserve prices of the two unsold packages should be revised to be more appropriate figures for the upcoming allocation.
The NBTC called a meeting with all stakeholders of satellite businesses and related parties to discuss the licensing of the two slots. They supported the subcommittee's preliminary conclusion to allocate the unsold orbital slots through any method other than an auction.
Thaicom chief executive Patompob Suwansiri recently said the company may consider joining the planned allocation of the right to use the remaining two orbit slots if the licensing requirements were changed from the conditions in January's auction. The adjustment may include ways of allocating the licences, the timeframe of the satellite launch to the orbit, and related licence fees.