[the nation] The National Telecommunications Commission and the Finance Ministry have reached an informal agreement to support each other's plans for 3G-spectrum licensing and the termination of concessions.
A source said yesterday that NTC commissioner Natee Sukonrat and Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij met informally on Monday to discuss possible collaboration.
Both agreed that the NTC should go ahead with its plan to auction 3G licences in September.
The NTC, meanwhile, will support the government's plan to terminate concessions so that concessionaires can be issued with 2G licences that are specific to existing spectrums, and which carry the same conditions as the 3G licences.
The Finance Ministry will also talk to private telecom-concession holders to ask for their collaboration in the concession-termination plan. It has also undertaken to examine all factors involved in the plan, including the matter of whether concession termination is legally possible.
The arrangement is intended to give concession holders a clear view of the situation, enabling them to decide whether to stay with their concessions or bid for the 3G licences.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will also meet with the NTC today to seek the commission's collaboration in supporting the government's concession-termination plan.
Earlier, the NTC wanted to proceed with auctioning the 3G licences as quickly as possible. The government, on the other hand, wanted the commission to wait until its concession-termination plan was complete, enabling the concession termination and the licensing processes take place together to ensure a level playing field under the same licensing regime.
Tomorrow, the NTC plans to send the 3G-spectrum licensing draft for publication in the Royal Gazette.
Abhisit explained yesterday that the concession termination would create a level playing field and help the country save about Bt40 billion by avoiding investment in redundant networks.
After the concession termination, TOT and CAT Telecom can lease their own networks to newcomers, so they do not have to invest in the networks. Currently, private concession holders have exclusive rights to use the networks they have built for TOT or CAT under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) principle.
Abhisit's comments followed the Cabinet's approval in principle of the concession-termination plan, which was jointly proposed by the Finance Ministry and Information and Communications Technology Ministry.
The ICT and Finance ministries will now set up a joint committee to complete the concession-termination plan within 30 days.
Natee said yesterday that the NTC might issue licences for the 900MHz, 1,800MHz, and 850MHz frequencies after the government finishes the concession-termination plan. Such licences can be used with any cellular technologies.
His remark was made in response to questions from about 40 Thai investors, fund managers and analysts who met the commission yesterday to learn details of its industry-reform policy.
Most of them wanted to know the NTC's position on the government's concession-termination plan.
Natee told them the NTC and the government were walking in the same direction, and if they could collaborate, they would be able to find "a perfection solution" to achieving industry reform.
NTC, Govt collaborate