Thailand's Thaicom has abandoned plans to build a Thaicom 9 satellite due to an ongoing regulatory dispute and falling demand for transponder capacity.
Thaicom has made the decision due to long-running uncertainty over the operating fee structure of satellite businesses implemented by the government, the Bangkok Postreported.
The dispute relates to the fees paid to the government to allow Thaicom to operate its satellites. The company currently operates three satellites under a concession regime – the Thaicom 4 (IPSTAR), Thaicom 5 and Thaicom 6, paying 20.5% of its revenue from these satellites to the government.
In addition, Thaicom operates the Thaicom 7 and Thaicom 8 under a license fee payment model, paying 5.75% of its revenue.
But regulator NBTC has demanded that Thaicom instead switch to the concession model for these satellites, over the objections of the company, and would have required the Thaicom 9 to be operated using the same model. The dispute remains unresolved.
Japan's Softbank, Thaicom's major customer, pulled out of its agreement to rent 30% of Thaicom 9's transponder capacity as a result of this uncertainty, and the satellite TV business is in ongoing decline due in part to competition from OTT service providers.
As a result of these factors, Thaicom will now not build any new satellites over the next three years, the report states. Instead, the operator plans to concentrate on maximizing the usage of its existing satellite resources.
Thaicom is also diversifying into new business areas including a mobile integrated TV content digital platform and a maritime communications platform as part of its restructuring.