dtac raises concerns regarding new Thailand spectrum auction

dtac (Total Access Communication Plc.), Telenor’s Thailand telecommunications operator confirmed on 16 July that it had collected an application for the auctions of 900 MHz and 1800 MHz spectrum to be held by The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on Aug 18-19. dtac representatives then attended an information session conducted by NBTC, and where it made its case.

“In the information session, dtac raised a serious concern regarding the addition of new clauses (no 16, 17, 18) stating that the winning bidder of the 900 MHz spectrum would be solely responsible for any and all interference to Thailand’s upcoming railway projects, both on 850 MHz and 900 MHz,” said Mr. Rajiv Bawa, dtac’s Chief Corporate Affairs and Business Development Officer.

dtac has identified two critical issues imposed on the bidder due to this additional requirement:
1.) Cost: The reduction of the reserve price by 2 billion baht will not cover the cost of filters and implementation on other operators’ and the railways’ radio equipment. While it is challenging to predict the costs without proper analysis, dtac estimates these to be significantly higher than the proposed reduction to the reserve price.
2.) Operational risk: More than cost, the bidder of the 900 MHz spectrum would be solely responsible for all operational risks relate to the interference. The installation of filters at the other operators’ base stations do be done by the bidder will not be possible in practice. In addition, also NBTC reserves the right to reshuffle the spectrum if needed, with the licensee responsible for any additional filter installations. This represents an unprecedented level of risk and uncertainty for the bidder in the 900 MHz spectrum auction.

As per the letter dtac submitted to NBTC on June 25, 2018, switching to 900 MHz requires new equipment to be installed on approximately 13,000 sites, a process which would take 24 months. dtac would like to ensure flexibility for usage of 850 MHz to serve its customers during the transition process.

dtac reiterated its intention to make a thorough assessment of the final auction guidelines before concluding on auction participation, and said it remained committed to working with the NBTC to support resolve the aforementioned issues and ensure that the 900 MHz spectrum is auctioned with favourable conditions.

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