NBTC plans spectrum recall

Laws being drafted for return, compensation

The national telecom regulator has started drafting regulatory conditions for recalling unused spectrum and compensation regime through an auction process.

The move is in line with Section 27 of the amended Frequency Allocation Act put in effect June 22, stating the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) must recall spectrum slots held by state agencies that are inefficiently used, to reallocate them by auction.

The new law also allows the regulator to pay compensation to spectrum holders to make the management of spectrum easier.

Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, said on July 13 the commission set up a subcommittee to draft regulatory conditions for recalling spectrum.

It aims to complete the draft in mid-August, after which it will be submitted to the board for approval and hearings.

Mr Takorn said the NBTC targets the draft becoming a new regulation in October after publishing in the Royal Gazette.

The NBTC will then set up another subcommittee to work on compensation for returned spectrum, covering the details and amount of compensation.

The subcommittee on compensation will comprise representatives of state agencies, including the Finance Ministry, Budget Bureau, National Economic and Social Development Board, and Digital Economy and Society Ministry.

Mr Takorn said there are four spectrum ranges the NBTC plans to recall for auctions under its spectrum management roadmap covering 2017-20: the 2600MHz, 700MHz, 1500MHz and 2300MHz.

The 2600MHz would be first, he said. This bandwidth is held by state-owned public broadcaster MCOT, with a total of 190MHz on this range. The concession for this spectrum ends in 2022.

Previously, MCOT agreed to return the unused 90MHz of bandwidth to the NBTC in exchange for compensation, and NBTC planned an auction by the end of this year.

Some global mobile operators including China Mobile asked the NBTC for an auction, for 2600MHz in particular, in order to further develop the range for coming 5G technology.

The spectrum to be used for 5G technology has not been settled, with a wide range of spectrum, from below 1GHz to up to 100 GHz studied in labs.

Mr Takorn said there is 92MHz of bandwidth on the 700MHz band that is operated by digital and analogue TV channels.

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