NBTC decides to scrap Aug 28 auction
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has cancelled its planned auction of four satellite orbital slot packages slated for Aug 28, saying the participation of only one contender in the auction cannot create fair competition.
TC Space Connect, wholly owned by SET-listed satellite service provider Thaicom, was the sole contender in the auction.
The NBTC board also instructed its management to return the bid guarantee placed by TC Space Connect and bid envelope fees to all the parties that purchased them.
Trairat Viriyasirikul, acting secretary-general of the NBTC, said the board assigned management to adjust the principles and methods of the auction to create better conditions.
The move, he said, should ensure fair competition and that national resources are used for the optimum benefit of the country, based on the constitution.
Another goal is to ward off risk that satellite orbital slots will be taken from Thailand if they are left unused, in line with the principles of the Master International Frequency Register, said Mr Trairat.
Four satellite orbital slot packages were to be auctioned. The first package consisted of 50.5°East and 51°E orbital slots with a reserve price of 677 million baht; the second was 78.5°E with a reserve price of 366.4 million; the third was 119.5°E and 120°E at 393 million; and the last was for 126°E and 142°E with a reserve price of 364.6 million.
A source from NBTC management who requested anonymity said all conditions for the existing auction plan will have to be revised.
"It is likely a new auction will not have packages, but instead selective or specific slots," the source said.
Under the current practice, a bidder bids for the packages it wants.
The source said it remains unclear whether a new auction will be held.
The NBTC originally scheduled the auction for July 24, but only TC Space Connect placed a bid request and a bank guarantee to join the bidding.
Mu Space and Advanced Technology, a local satellite and space tech firm, failed to submit a bid request by the deadline on July 5, despite earlier buying a bid envelope.
On July 7, the NBTC board resolved to postpone the event until Aug 28, giving a new opportunity for interested parties to join in.
National Telecom bought a bid envelope for the auction on Aug 6, which was the final day to do so, but failed to submit a bid request by the Aug 11 deadline.
Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn had previously called on the NBTC to postpone the auction until new members of the NBTC board are appointed.
The recruitment of new board members has begun.
Mr Chaiwut said the auction involves many slots, including 119.5°E and 78.5°E, both of which are still occupied under the DES Ministry's concession.
The former is being used by the Thaicom 4 satellite, while the latter was previously used by the Thaicom 5 satellite, which has been deorbited.