The Thai telecoms regulator will meet on Wednesday to consider introducing a 60MHz spectrum limit on the amount of spectrum an operator can hold to encourage newcomers to enter the market.
As part of its wider auction plan, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is expected to propose the 60MHz cap to the regulator’s telecoms commission, the Nation reported today.
NBTC secretary general Takorn Tantasith said a spectrum cap is needed to balance the need for existing operators to expand their holdings and new players to enter to increase competition.
Operators with more than 60MHz of spectrum would be able to participate in the auctions but would need to return any amount over the limit to the regulator, the NBTC said.
The country’s second largest operator dtac, which is owned by Telenor, has the largest spectrum holding – 75MHz across three bands. A total of 60MHz of that is held under two concessions with state-owned CAT Telecom.
Sigve Brekke, head of Telenor Group’s Asia operations, said the cap should not apply to frequencies held under concessions since they are owned by CAT, the Bangkok Post said.
Market leader AIS has just 32.5MHz, and 17.5MHz (900MHz concession with TOT) of that expires in September. True Mobile holds 30MHz in the 2.1GHz and 850MHz bands — the 850MHz is a concession from CAT.
The NBTC said in April the spectrum cap would be set at 45MHz and noted that it would apply only to bandwidth that is in use and not expiring within five years.
Last week the country’s ICT Minister urged the government to work out a strategic master plan for spectrum to ensure the efficient use of the resource by the telecoms and broadcast industries. The minister and the head of CAT Telecom have also suggested delaying the auctions by a few months to give the regulator more time to develop an efficient auction plan.
Two slots of 12.5MHz in the 1.8GHz band are scheduled to be sold off in November. In addition, two blocks of 10MHz of 900MHz airwaves will be auctioned off in December.
The 4G auctions have been delayed by more than a year since the military coup in 2014.