Thailand’s Bangkok Post newspaper is reporting that the country’s government is seeking – at least – partial control of the upcoming Thaicom-9 craft. Thaicom-9 is due for launch in 2019 to the 119.5 degrees East orbital slot.
“State telecom enterprise CAT Telecom will probably be assigned to partly operate and manage the state satellite,” Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong told the newspaper. The scheme, according to the deputy prime minister is for the government to channel benefits of the space economy for the good of the general population.
CAT Telecom would invest in, or operate, the new satellite.
Thailand’s government ruled in 2016 that the existing Thaicom 7 and 8 could remain as concessions satellites, but new satellites launched after 2016 would have to come under the new business structure.
Thaicom satellites are currently managed under a licensing regime by their namesake company. Thaicom is a subsidiary of InTouch Holdings Plc, the biggest telecom conglomerate in the country and the owner of AIS, the country’s largest mobile operator,” said the Bangkok Post. “Thaicom, formerly known as Shin Satellite Co, was originally founded by ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.”
Thaicom-4 (AKA iPStar) operates from 119.5 E, while Thaicom-5 is at 78.5 E. The current concession for these satellites expires in 2021. It had been expected that Thaicom-9 would replace Thaicom-4, and there had been a plan to build and launch Thaicom-10 to replace Thaicom-5.
The newspaper says that Thaicom and the government have yet to settle on a new business structure.
There is also an ongoing dispute about the replacement of the current 5.75 per cent annual licensing fee, and a proposal to raise this to 20.5 per cent for Thaicom 7 and 8.