Thailand elects new telecom commissioners

Dylan Bushell-Embling
06 Sep 2011

After 14 long years, the Thai government has finally elected the members of in-formation super regulator the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

The 11-member panel consists of representatives mainly from the telecom, television, consumer protection and legal sectors, Bangkok Postreported.

Some commentators have criticized the line-up, alleging that some members do not have the industry experience required to be telecom or broadcasting commissioners, and that that too many have military backgrounds.

The selection process itself had also come under fire, with a senator asking that the secret ballot process be postponed. But this request had been voted down.

Industry watchers also expect the NBTC to be heading towards a legal minefield, as the body tackles the weighty issues that have kept the Thai telecom market in turmoil.

The new regulator will need to sort out a spectrum policy and pave the way for a long-anticipated 2.1GHz spectrum auction, somehow reconciling the conflicting interests of state-owned CAT and TOT and private operators DTAC, True and AIS.

The establishment of the NBTC was first mandated in Thailand's 1997 constitution, but the process was repeatedly held up by bureaucracy and political disagreements. But when a court decision threw the authority of current telecom regulator NTC into doubt – and derailed the nation's planned 3G auctions – efforts to create the new body accelerated.

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