Thailand may award 3.5 GHz spectrum in 2026: Report

The local telecommunications regulator currently holds 400 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band

Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) Office said it is currently working on a spectrum management roadmap that could see auctions for the 3.5 GHz spectrum band for 5G services in 2026, local newspaper Bangkok Post reported.

According to the report, the spectrum management roadmap includes the 850 MHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands. The local telecommunications regulator currently holds 400 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band, while the other three spectrum bands are currently held by state-owned operator National Telecom (NT).

The report noted that the state-run carrier NT will return those bands once its licenses for the use of the frequencies expire in 2025.

NBTC commissioner Sompob Purivigraipong noted that this spectrum management roadmap “will set a clear path for spectrum resource management, helping telecom and related industries evaluate their business plans and prepare future investment plans.”

 “A proper period to allocate those spectrum ranges may be from 2026,” the official added.

In September, Ericsson Thailand head Igor Maurell had urged the Thai authorities to auction the 3.5 GHz frequencies ideally by 2025, with the main goal of boosting the country’s competitiveness in the 5G domain.

The NBTC had allocated the 700 MHz, 2.5 GHz, and 26 GHz bands for 5G in early 2020.

In September, local carrier Advanced Info System (AIS)  has signed an agreement to lease Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment to National Telecom.

The agreement will allow the state-owned company to provide 5G services using its 700 MHz spectrum. The reports noted that this leasing agreement has been already approved by the local regulator.

Under the terms of the agreement, AIS will lease 13,500 base stations which the carrier expects to deploy over the next two years. Additionally, a national roaming deal on AIS infrastructure has been agreed upon until March 2036.

During the construction of the new network infrastructure, AIS agreed to provide national roaming services to NT free of charge. As part of a separate agreement, NT will transfer half of its 700 MHz spectrum to AIS, with the provision that 20% of the spectrum be reserved for MVNOs.

This separate deal stipulates that AIS will pay NT a total of THB14.9 billion ($419.6 million) for the spectrum.

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