Friday, July 19, 2019

All three major mobile operators apply for 700MHz licences

Jun 19. 2019
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By The Nation

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All three 900MHz operators applied for 700MHz licences on Wednesday’s deadline. Advanced Info Service (AIS) and Total Access Communication (DTAC) on Wednesday morning informed the Stock Exchange of Thailand that their 900MHz subsidiaries will apply for a 700MHz licence from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC).

On Wednesday morning, representatives of all three operators, AIS, DTAC, and True Corp, submitted their applications for licences to the NBTC.

The NBTC today put on sale three slots of the 700MHz spectrum at a price of Bt17.584 billion each. Each slot features a 10MHz bandwidth. The licence lasts 15 years with payments to be made in 10 instalments.

The applicants will select their targeted spectrum slot this afternoon.

DTAC’s board on Wednesday gave the green light for DTAC TriNet to submit the application for one block of the 700MHz spectrum to the NBTC.

DTAC chief executive officer Alexandra Reich said, “DTAC believes that this investment will provide significant benefits to all stakeholders as the 700 MHz spectrum can be used for 5G. The opportunity to acquire an additional 2x10 MHz of low-band spectrum brings our total bandwidth up to 130 MHz [including 2300 MHz in partnership with TOT].”

Reich also stressed that despite the possibility of using 700MHz for 5G services, the NBTC has yet to develop a clear 5G spectrum road map for both high- and low-band spectrum.

She said, “Thailand is moving towards a full digital society, in which the readiness of 5G is a key element. Therefore, a clear spectrum roadmap is critical to the industry because it helps us create effective long-term investment plans to build infrastructure that can help boost the country’s economy.”

The company said the 700MHz spectrum would boost DTAC’s network coverage nationwide, resulting in an improved mobile internet experience in remote areas in addition to higher capacity for urban users.

The NBTC will use proceeds from the slot sales to help ease the financial burden of digital TV broadcasters.

The sale of the 700MHz spectrum stems from the junta’s recent launch of relief measures to ease financial pressures on the three 900MHz telecom operators as well as digital TV companies. 

The three 900MHz operators are subsidiaries of Advanced Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Corp.

Under the relief measures, the NBTC will also ease the burden on the three holders of the 900MHz spectrum licence by increasing the number of instalments from four to 10.

However, the relief measures include a condition that any 900MHz licence holder taking up the relief measures must also purchase a 700MHz spectrum slot from the NBTC.

If they decline to buy the slots, the longer instalment plan is cancelled and they would have to pay as per the original payment schedule.

According to the original schedule, AIS subsidiary Advanced Wireless Network and True Corp’s subsidiary TrueMove H Universal Communication are scheduled to pay hefty final instalments of Bt59.574 billion and Bt60.218 billion, respectively, for their 900MHz licences in 2020. 

DTAC subsidiary DTAC TriNet is due to pay its Bt30.024 billion final instalment for the 900MHz band in 2022.

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