Thaicom Plc has finally been awarded a licence from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to launch a communications satellite under a new licensing system.
The satellite is planned for launch in 2014 to an orbital slot at 120 degrees East.
The country’s sole satellite service provider was the only company to apply for the type-3 licence to provide service as a provider with its own network.
The licence, approved yesterday by the NBTC telecom committee, will enable Thaicom to pre-sell transponder bandwidth capacity for the new satellite, called Thaicom 7.
Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the committee, said the licence required no spectrum auction because it does not involve the use of frequency.
But Thaicom must pay 2% of total revenue as an annual licence fee, plus a 3.75% universal service obligation fee over the 20-year life of the licence.
Col Settapong said the committee is also drafting a license framework for service providers using frequency via satellite.
The draft is expected to be complete next month.
An industry source said national security and foreign shareholding are key concerns of some NBTC members.
Earlier, former Thaicom chief executive Dumrong Kasemset told the telecom regulator that his company Infobahn opposes the issuance to Thaicom of a licence for its Thaicom 7 satellite, questioning the foreign ownership of the satellite operator’s parent, InTouch Plc.
InTouch, formerly known as Shin Corporation, owns 41.14 % of Thaicom.
Thaicom has insisted to the NBTC in the last two weeks that it is a Thai-majority company.
But Thaicom said the worst case is that InTouch is ruled as being foreign-dominated, with the company retaining its status as a Thai firm, given that the remaining stake is jointly held by Thai minor shareholders and individual and institutional investors.
The Commerce Ministry and the Stock Exchange of Thailand have certified Thaicom as a 94% Thai-owned company.
The Foreign Business Act caps the foreign shareholding of Thai telecom operators at 49%.
News from the Bangkok Post