Thai operator Dtac could be facing fresh struggles related to its expiring 850-MHz and 1800-MHz spectrum licenses, with regulator NBTC stating that no spectrum auctions are likely to be held until late 2018.
Dtac holds 1800-MHz and 850-MHz spectrum under a concession from state-owned operator CAT Telecom. But this concession is set to expire at the end of September.
The NBTC had originally planned to hold an auction for 10 MHz of 850-MHz spectrum and 90 MHz in the 1800-MHz band in July, to allow Dtac to buy back spectrum and avoid service disruption after the concession agreement expires.
But with the regulator's current board set to cease policy decisions this month while a new board is selected, the NBTC has pushed back the planned spectrum auction indefinitely, the Bangkok Postreported.
Thailand's National Legislative Assembly is in the process of recruiting candidates for the board and expects to vote on a list of seven nominees in April, but the new board will not be able to complete an auction by September, the report states.
Most members of the existing board are uncomfortable with the idea of scheduling an auction as its six-year working term expired in October. Thailand's Council of State has also yet to reply to the board's inquiry about whether it even has the authority to conduct an auction.
While Dtac has assured customers that it will be able to offer an uninterrupted service following the expiry of its concession, special arrangements may need to be made.
The Bangkok Post cites a current NBTC board member as stating that Dtac may need to operate using remedy measures, which would require the operator to surrender all benefits (earnings after expenses) from its operations to the government.
The board member also stated that some NBTC board members have disagreed with the decision to divide the 1800-MHz spectrum due to be auctioned into nine 10 MHz slots, instead of the original three.