The cabinet of ministers under Thailand’s military-led regime yesterday approved eight draft laws which effectively remove the powers of the National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission to assign and manage mobile frequencies, instead handing the reins of spectrum policy to the soon-to-be-established Digital Economy Committee. As reported by Thai newspaper The Nation, some of the draft laws – all presented under the ‘digital economy’ banner – also require the NBTC to merge its existing Broadcasting and Telecom committees into a single regulatory body by amending the existing NBTC law; the NBTC will remain the main regulatory body for broadcasting and telecommunications, but it will have to comply with the government’s digital economy policy on spectrum planning. This means that the NBTC’s upcoming planned open auctions for 900MHz/1800MHz spectrum are in doubt. ICT Minister Pornchai Rujiprapa confirmed that the Digital Economy Committee would decide on which spectra should be auctioned off for commercial purposes and which should be assigned for public benefit. Furthermore, under the approved drafts the NBTC will no longer oversee the THB20 billion (USD607 million) budget of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Research and Development Fund for Public Interest, with this to be managed by the Digital Economy Committee. The government will now hand all eight drafts over to the Council of State to frame the new laws.
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