NT prepares migration plan as spectrum expiry looms
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NT prepares migration plan as spectrum expiry looms

State telecom enterprise National Telecom (NT) has prepared a plan to migrate customers from its three expiring spectrum ranges to the 700-megahertz range it obtained at the 5G licence auction in 2020.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) assigned NT to outline its business plan and operations after its rights to the three spectrum bands expire, submitting it to the regulator by August, one year ahead of expiration.

The right to use the three spectrum bands -- 850MHz, 2100MHz and 2300MHz -- expires in September 2025.

NT partnered with private telecom firms to operate mobile phone services on those three bands. The partnership contracts generate revenue of around 40 billion baht per year to NT.

NT operates mobile services under its own brand "My by NT", which has 1.7 million subscribers.

Col Sanphachai Huvanandana, president of the company, said the expiry of the rights affects not only NT customers, but also other mobile phone users as some mobile traffic from the two major operators are connected to the expiring bands under the partnership agreements.

Col Sanphachai said the customer migration plan may propose extending NT's right to use those three spectrum bands for a certain period to ensure a smooth transition.

In the past, the telecom regulator extended the use of some spectrum bands by private operators for a certain period, such as 180 days, after their expiry to facilitate the migration of their customers from those ranges.

NT was created when TOT and CAT Telecom merged. NT, through a TOT deal, partnered with Advanced Info Service on TOT's 2100MHz range.

The company also partnered with the now-defunct Total Access Communication for TOT's rights to the 2300MHz range.

A CAT Telecom partnership with True Move H Universal Communication used CAT's rights to the 850MHz range.

After 2025, NT can operate on different spectrum ranges, including the 700MHz and 26GHz bands it clinched at the licence auction in February 2020.

Previously NBTC commissioner Somphop Purivigraipong said a subcommittee is drafting a spectrum management roadmap to deal with NT's three expiring spectrum ranges and the 3500MHz band.

The roadmap is expected to be unveiled by June, according to the regulator.

Mr Somphop said the planned auction of the three spectrum ranges must not pose excessively high costs for prospective bidders or they may pass on the burden to consumers.

The NBTC office plans to hold a couple of focus group discussions after finishing the draft.

The spectrum auction or reallocation is expected to occur before September 2025, according to the NBTC.

Mr Somphop said he thinks the 3500MHz range is more attractive for operators than the three expiring bands because the 3500MHz range has real demand and can be used to promote a 5G private network for vertical industries.

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