It looks like 4G in Thailand is still facing delays and hurdles, as the latest development is that the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) ministry wants to settle network ownership rights in terms of state and private companies before the 4G auction can be held.
Resolve 4G disputes
The 4G auction is the method in which the government plans to sell off wireless spectrum, allowing the carriers to launch new, super fast 4G services, but it has already faced lengthy delays.
“We need to resolve the disputes, especially over ownership of telecommunications towers and infrastructure under the concessions, as these assets will be the keys for business expansion under the new licences”, said a government source yesterday, according to Thai publication The Nation.
The source claims that the state or private operators would gain the upper hand in expanding with 4G if they legally own the assets.
Pridiyathorn Devakula, the deputy prime minister who is in charge of the Thai economy, confirmed that the auction would take place in the first half of this year and that it’s currently top priority. Furthermore, ICT Minister Pornchai Rujiprapa said the ministry strongly supports the auction.
4G auction delay
Takorn Tantasith, who is secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), said the auction may have to be delayed from August to December, because there has not been confirmation of a go-ahead from the National Council for Peace and Order to prepare the plan to auction the 1800 MHz network bands of TrueMove and Digital Phone.
The auction was originally scheduled for mid-2014, but in July last year the junta suspended the auction for one year, pending complete clarification of the plan. But the mobile phone companies want the auction to happen as soon as possible, so they can buy more bandwidth to satisfy the demand for wireless Internet service from consumers.
CAT Telecom and DTAC are currently in a legal ownership battle over 10,419 towers, while CAT and TrueMove are also disputing over 8,031 telecom towers. The reason is that the concessions they have means the private companies must transfer assets to the state telecom operators after the concessions expire. AIS and TOT are currently fighting over who owns 13,198 mobile masts under this concession.
ICT Minister Pornchai said this week that certain digital economy bills, including the one creating the Digital for Economy and Society Ministry, are expected to be taken up by the National Legislative Assembly in April, and are expected to go into force in June.
The government has so far drafted 10 bills in relation to promoting the Thai digital economy.
SOURCE: The Nation