Thai operator dtac now has just two days to migrate its customers off its 2G network after the country’s regulator refused to allow a temporary extension of its 850MHz spectrum concession.
Dtac, which is the country’s third largest operator, has been offering 2G services on state-owned CAT Telecom’s 850MHz network via a concession that expires at midnight on 15th September. Now that a grace period has been ruled out, these services will be shut down at this time – whether or not dtac has migrated its 90,000 2G customers onto other networks.
In July, the NBTC (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission) offered dtac a chance to extend the length of this concession if it bid in a previously scheduled auction for 900MHz spectrum. The operator declined this offer and the auctions were cancelled as no other participants were forthcoming.
Dtac is now attempting to overturn the NBTC’s condition via legal channels, and has filed a court petition in an attempt to enshrine its customers’ right to continue using its network after the concession expires. All of dtac’s customers could have their service disrupted if its 2G network is cut off, as the operator uses the 850MHz spectrum to facilitate roaming onto other networks.
NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith told the Bangkok Post that the regulator had denied the extension request as dtac did not have a “substantial” enough base of active subscribers on its 2G network. If the number of active users on the network had been higher, the terms of dtac’s concession would have allowed for an extension.
The regulator also noted that if dtac had acquired 900MHz spectrum in the previously scheduled auctions, it would have been able to offer 850MHz services following an upgrade.