Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Telecoms signal interest in relief measures, await next move

May 10. 2019
Narupon Rattanasamaharn, right, Dtac’s senior vice president, presents the company’s expression of interest to NBTC deputy secretary-general Korkij Danchaivichit on Friday.
Narupon Rattanasamaharn, right, Dtac’s senior vice president, presents the company’s expression of interest to NBTC deputy secretary-general Korkij Danchaivichit on Friday.
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By The Nation

All three 900MHz telecom operators have submitted “expressions of interest” to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) indicating they want to switch to an eased-payment schedule for their licences upfront under relief measures offered by the government.

Advanced Info Service (AIS) and Total Access Communication (Dtac) submitted the expression on Friday (May 10).

True Corp filed to the Stock Exchange of Thailand on Wednesday that its 900MHz subsidiary True Move H Universal Communication Company Limited (TUC) had already submitted an expression the NBTC.

Friday was the last day the NBTC allowed the operators to do so.

The government launched the relief measure last month to ease financial burdens on the operators and digital TV licence holders.

For the 900MHz telecom operators, the relief measures require the NBTC to split their total up-front licence fee for the spectrum into 10 instalments, giving them more time for payments from the current four instalments.

However, the measures include a condition that makes it mandatory for 900MHz telecom operators who decide to take up the relief measures to purchase the NBTC’s 700MHz spectrum slots. The slots will be up for sale on June 19.

The operators can inform the NBTC that they want to take up the relief measures but can later opt not to buy the 700MHz slots. However, they would lose the extended payment facility and would have to pay as per the original payment schedule.

The NBTC will disclose the price of the 700MHz slot on May 14.

Regarding the upcoming 700MHz licence allocation, Dtac said in its expression of interest that the spectrum allocation should be delayed until NBTC can publish a clear spectrum roadmap, before discussing any further auctions.

Dtac will nevertheless study the 700MHz licence terms and conditions from the information memorandum expected to be announced by the NBTC this month.

“We think new spectrum allocation should be delayed until NBTC can publish a clear spectrum roadmap, including time for allocation and fair valuation of available spectrum, before discussing any further auctions,” said Rajiv Bawa, Dtac’s chief corporate affairs & business development officer.

Regarding the 700MHz licence sales, True said on Wednesday that TUC has to consider all relevant factors in every facet carefully, especially on the details of the criteria for the 700MHz frequency spectrum sales. 

TUC will further consider the matter and proceed as it deems appropriate after receiving clear conditions on the criteria for the spectrum allocation.

Under the original terms, AIS subsidiary Advanced Wireless Network (AWN) and TUC 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 will pay its final instalment for the 900MHz of Bt30.024 billion in 2022.

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