NBTC likely to postpone 5G auction

03 Apr 2017

Thai regulator NBTC is likely to have to postpone the planned 2600-MHz 5G auction until 2018 due to regulatory and administrative hurdles.

The regulator had planned to hold the 2600-MHz auction in September this year, but this process will probably need to be delayed, an NBTC commissioner told the Bangkok Post.

Factors behind the delay include the fact that 190MHz of 2600-MHz spectrum has been allocated to state broadcaster MCOT and is currently unused.

MCOT expects compensation for the return of 80MHz of spectrum for the auction, but the NBTC is currently not authorized to pay compensation to state agencies in return for spectrum.

The new draft bill restructuring the NBTC is expected to give the regulator the power to do so, but the process of arranging compensation and drawing up the framework for these payments will take time. The new bill has yet to identify methodologies for calculating compensation.

The NBTC restructuring is also likely to create its own issues that will impact the auction process due to the transition to new commissioners expected after the bill takes effect.

Meanwhile Thailand still lacks a clear spectrum roadmap for the evolution to 5G will inevitably cause a delay in Thailand's 5G ecosystem development.

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