NBTC turns down CAT's plea
Mar 04, 2013 (Bangkok Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
CAT Telecom will be given only one year to reuse the 1800-megahertz spectrum once its mobile concessions expire, says the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).
"We will certainly not extend the right by as much as 12 years, as requested by CAT, to reuse the 25 MHz of spectrum once the existing concessions of True Move and Digital Phone expire on Sept 15," said Col Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the NBTC's telecom committee.
The concessions of True Move, a unit of True Corporation, and Digital Phone, a unit of Advanced Info Service, are set to expire under agreements with state-owned CAT.
About 17 million subscribers use the 1800-MHz bandwidth for 2G services with True Move and Digital Phone.
"If CAT resists the rule, CAT has the right to file a petition against us and it will end up in court," said Col Settapong.
CAT wants to retain its right to reuse the frequency until 2025.
Col Settapong said the state telecom enterprise's request was absolutely impossible, as it violates the law.
By law, the spectrum must be returned to the NBTC to be reallocated once the existing concessions expire.
Col Settapong said the telecom committee will soon issue an administrative order to set a one-year transition period for CAT to deal with customers and avoid a service disruption.
The NBTC must reallocate the bandwidth for public use. The auction for the frequency is scheduled to be held by September.
CAT's board recently came up with a resolution to ask the Information and Communication Technology Ministry to seek assistance from the cabinet.
The board remarked that the longer the period that spectrum is retained, the higher the benefit for national telecom security.
CAT cited Section 84(4) of the Frequency Allocation Act, which requires the NBTC to set time frames for state enterprises to transfer their frequencies to the commission or to improve their use of the frequencies. The commission's consideration of these periods has to be based on the public benefit.
CAT insists it needs the bandwidth to support itself in becoming a network service provider under roaming service agreements or network rental service.
Col Settapong said the NBTC is drafting measures to address concerns over the potential impact on the existing 17 million customers of True Move and Digital Phone after the concessions expire.
The telecom committee recently approved the formation of a subcommittee to review the 1800-MHz frequency reallocation.
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