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McClatchy-Tribune  06/13/2014 5:47 AM ET
NBTC takes aim at DTAC with 4G cap [Bangkok Post, Thailand :: ]

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June 13--The national telecom regulator is floating the idea of blocking bidders with spectrum holdings above 25 megahertz of bandwidth on the 1800-MHz spectrum from taking part in the August auction for fourth-generation (4G) mobile broadband service.

The move seems directed at second-ranked operator Total Access Communication (DTAC), which owns 50 MHz of the 1800-MHz spectrum.

The Norway-based mobile operator is under legal attack from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), with the regulator planning to set up a committee to examine the shareholding of DTAC and the portion held by major shareholder Telenor.

Telenor Group is headquartered in Fornebu, Norway.

The NBTC is unhappy with Telenor, which this week said DTAC had been notified by the NBTC on May 28 that it must temporarily restrict access to Facebook, affecting DTAC's 10 million Facebook-using customers for about 45 minutes.

The regulator insists it never ordered Facebook blocked.

Col Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the NBTC's telecom committee, said he personally raised the rule to cap the amount of spectrum holdings for 4G bidders at yesterday's board meeting.

"A spectrum cap was one of the major opinions raised at last month's public

hearing on the draft for the 4G auction," he said.

In his telling, the rule is aimed at promoting competition and preventing operators from holding an excessive amount of bandwidth.

But Col Settapong acknowledged that the cap proposal needs agreement from the other four members of the telecom committee before taking effect.

The proposal will be raised at the NBTC's board meeting for consideration next week.

The NBTC plans to auction two licences for 12.5 MHz of bandwidth each on the 1800-MHz spectrum in August.

Each participant can only bid for a maximum of 12.5 MHz in compliance with the NBTC's spectrum cap rule.

The telecom committee yesterday also agreed to amend a significant condition of the 1800-MHz auction draft, scrapping a condition stipulating the auction would be cancelled if the bidders numbered fewer than three.

"If the number of bidders is one or two, then we'll extend the auction period for an additional 30 days to allow more bidders," Col Settapong said. "The auction will resume again after the extension period even if only one or two bidders are left."


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