The Information and Communications Technology Ministry suggested CAT Telecom decide this year what it wants to do with DTAC's unused 24.5 megahertz of bandwidth, saying the spectrum should be utilised in the best interest of the public.
Through its concession with CAT, Total Access Communication (DTAC), the No. 2 mobile operator, holds 50MHz on the 1800MHz spectrum, half of which is being used to serve its existing 2G subscribers. DTAC's concession will expire in 2018.
ICT Minister Gp Capt Anudith Nakornthap supports DTAC's proposal to use the bandwidth to provide 4G service.
"I agree with this proposal. It's better than doing nothing with it until the concession expires in five years," he said.
In September, DTAC proposed to CAT three options to utilise the unused bandwidth.
First, CAT may allow it to upgrade to 4G service on the unused bandwidth under CAT's 2G concession. This means DTAC must share the revenue with CAT until the concession ends.
Second, DTAC and CAT may launch the 4G service by using a wholesale/resale business model, similar to the CAT-True Move deal.
Third, DTAC may return the unused bandwidth to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) for 4G auction, in line with Frequency Allocation Act which stipulates that spectra can only be allocated via an auction.
The bandwidth will then add to the 25MHz planned for the 4G auction.
Col Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the NBTC's telecom committee, said if DTAC and CAT make the decision by the end of this year, NBTC will have time to better prepare for the 4G auction next September.
The telecom regulator has set the tentative auction date in the last two weeks of September. The winner will be officially announced in the first week of October and licences awarded in early November.
CAT president Kittisak Sriprasert has talked with DTAC about 4G service using a wholesale/resale business model.