By USANEE MONGKOLPORN
THE NATIONAL Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's telecom committee recently declined to grant True Corp's request to test fourth-generation wireless broadband on a band of the 1,800-megahertz spectrum that will be put up for auction in Nove
According to an NBTC source, the committee was concerned that if it granted the request, it might affect the planned auction.
True wanted to test 4G broadband for 90 days on a combination of its existing 2.1-gigahertz spectrum and the 1,800MHz band in question. It would use only 10MHz of the total 12.5MHz band on the 1,800MHz spectrum for the test. This 1,800MHz band was earlier held by True’s subsidiary TrueMove.
On the same day when the telecom committee considered True’s request, Advanced Info Service requested that if True’s request were granted, the panel should also permit AIS’s subsidiary Digital Phone Co (DPC) to conduct a similar 4G test on the latter’s 1,800MHz band.
Under the concession system, CAT Telecom granted bands on the 1,800MHz spectrum to both TrueMove and DPC. After their concessions expired in September 2013, the NBTC reclaimed their bands for an auction, now scheduled to take place this November.
The source said the four current members of the telecom committee were divided on True’s request. Committee chairman Setthapong Malisuwan and Sukit Khamasundara believed that the test was permissible under NBTC rules. However, Prawit Leesatapornwongsa and Prasert Silphiphat disagreed, amid concern that granting the request might affect the planned auction.
In the end, the committee decided to reject the request. Originally the committee had five members, but one has resigned from the post.
Prawit said a trial 4G service on the 1,800MHz spectrum this close to the date of the auction might put the NBTC at risk of legal action alleging that it favours a certain operator over other potential bidders.
He added that the test might also affect those TrueMove subscribers who have yet to migrate to other networks.
At present there are around 520,000 subscribers left on the TrueMove network and around 1,000 on the DPC network. The NBTC source said True sent the request for the 4G test to the telecom committee in February but the case was tabled after the NBTC decided to auction 1,800MHz and 900MHz licences in the same month of November.
The NBTC will hold the last public hearing on the rules for the 1,800MHz auction today.
In a separate matter, the NBTC office has yet to submit for the telecom committee’s consideration a request by Total Access Communication (DTAC) to upgrade 10MHz of its existing 1,800MHz bandwidth to provide a 4G service.