Published on April 4, 2008
The National Telecommunica-tions Commission (NTC) has approved a plan to award third-generation (3G) licences based on the 2,000-megahertz band in August, secretary-general Suranan Wongvithayakamjorn said yesterday.
"This is faster than the original schedule of next year," he said.
He said the cellular operators planning to launch 3G on their existing bands could go ahead as intended, but they had to comply with the new 3G regulations once they were in place.
The 2,000MHz spectrum is the international standard platform for providing 3G, which will enable the telecom operators to sell bandwidth-hungry content like live video. The NTC has bandwidth of 45MHz in the 2,000MHz band available.
As part of the implementation plan, the NTC will hold a public hearing next month on details of the spectrum-pricing evaluation and the result of a study of the 3G-licensing terms and conditions, including the appropriate number of licences to be made available and licensing methods.
"By then, we'll know how many licences we can award," Suranan said.
The cellular operators have been waiting for the 2,000MHz licences while planning to develop 3G services on their existing bands with their state concession owners, a move that was approved last month by the Information and Communications Technology Ministry.
Advanced Info Service (AIS) and Total Access Communication each plan to launch 3G this year on their existing 900MHz and 850MHz bands, respectively.
True Move is waiting for CAT Telecom to award the other 850MHz band to it to develop the 3G service.
Cellular operator Thai Mobile, jointly owned by TOT and CAT Telecom, is the only entity owning the 1,900MHz frequency in the 2,000MHz band, which was granted to it by the now defunct spectrum-allocation committee in the pre-NTC era.
AIS plans to join with Thai Mobile to develop 3G on 1,900MHz.
Telecom analysts estimate that each cellular operator has to spend around US$2 billion (Bt63.24 billion) if it wants to roll out a nationwide 3G network.
During the 3G-licensing-development period, the NTC will also hold a public hearing on its plan for mobile number portability as proposed
by Chulalongkorn University, together with a study of the local telecom industry done by Thammasat University.
Number portability provides mobile-phone users with the ability to retain their existing phone numbers when they switch service providers.