Slow progress on Thai ‘digital economy’ laws could delay 4G auctions

Slow progress on Thai ‘digital economy’ laws could delay 4G auctions

05 FEB 2015

Thailand’s 4G spectrum auctions scheduled for August could be delayed until 2016 unless the country’s ‘digital economy’ laws are passed by April, the Bangkok Post reported.

A committee member working on the initiative told the Post: “There’s no guarantee that 4G [auctions] will even be rescheduled in the absence of the digital economy laws.”

The person said the digital economy initiative has faced a number of delays amid increasing concern that it will ever actually get off the ground, the Post said. The Council of State has requested a number of what it says are “practical” changes, including having the Digital Economy Policy Committee chaired by a deputy prime minister instead of the prime minister and reducing the number of committee members to 12 from the suggested 32.

The Council of State is working to modify a number of draft bills intended to transform the country’s economy, after they faced strong public criticism, particularly the cyber-security bill. This law would give a Cyber Security Commission the authority to require the country’s communications service providers to give it access to all types of digital information – all without a court order, which is currently required.

The telecoms regulator said in mid-November it plans to move ahead with the 4G auction this year as it sees the additional spectrum as key to boosting operators’ capacity and serving the government’s digital-economy goals. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) also has said it doesn’t want the spectrum sale delayed because the 900MHz concession held by AIS expires at the end of September.

The auctions were scheduled for last August, but the country’s junta, which took power in May, pushed back the 900MHz and 1.8GHz auctions by a year and called for changes in a number of sections of the frequency act to improve transparency before the process.

Meanwhile, the chairman of a five-member committee set up to review the performance of the NBTC has said the regulator “must retain its independence and authority to allocate all frequency ranges,” the Post reported.

The Post quoted Boonyavat Kruahongs as saying: “Its independence must remain unaffected to prevent third-party intervention, particularly from politicians, in the frequency allocation process.”

The committee is expected to submit its proposal to the National Legislative Assembly this week.

That cabinet in early January approved a controversial draft bill that would put the NBTC under the Digital Economy Policy Committee, which would be chaired by the prime minister.

Author

Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

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