NBTC, Thailand’s telecoms regulator, will try to enhance participation of mobile operators during the upcoming auction for 700 MHz licenses for 5G networks by giving more time to pay for the existing 900 MHz licenses.
Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha earlier said in an executive order that telecoms operators should be given more time to make payments because competition was hurting their ability to pay for 900 MHz licenses, Reuters reported.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) said it would only allow the payment period to be extended if operators participate in an auction for 700 MHz licenses in June.
“If operators do not accept the condition to enter the bidding for 700 MHz then they will not be able to get the extension for 900 MHz,” Takorn Tantasith, NBTC Secretary-General said. NBTC said mobile operators must apply for the extension by May 10.
NBTC said the new payment plan would be 10 installments over 10 years, compared with an original four installments over five years.
Advanced Info Service (AIS) and True, which won their licenses in 2016 for about $2 billion each, could now pay the remaining amount over six installments from next year to 2025 vs the payment of the final installment next year.
Total Access Communication, which won a spectrum license for $1.2 billion in November, could now pay in eight more installments from next year to 2027 against the old deadline of 2022.
Weerawat Kiattipongthaworn, chief corporate officer of AIS, said the company would apply for the payment extension but that its board would have to discuss the conditions of 700 MHz bidding before committing to the new arrangement.
Rajiv Bawa, head of corporate affairs at Total Access, said the company would seek further talks with NBTC before deciding its next move.
Adhiruth Thothaveesansuk, vice chairman of the executive committee of True, welcomed the payment extension. He said the company would have to discuss the requirement to bid for the 5G spectrum before deciding.