Thailand problems with orbital slot sell-off

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Thailand’s telecom regulator want to auction rights to use the nation’s satellite orbital slots. But its move is facing severe criticism.

The four auctions cover slots at: 50.5°East and 51°E (auction 1), 78.5°E, (auction 2), 119.5°E and 120°E (auction 3), and with the last auction covering 126°E and 142°E.

The auction minimum starting prices are considerable at 728 million Baht ($24m) for the first pair of orbital slots, 366.5 million Baht for the second auction, 748 million Baht for the third auction and 364.7 million Baht for the fourth and final auction

Bid winners, under the current proposals, will have to pay 10 per cent of the bid in Year 1 of their ownership, 40 per cent in Year 4 and 50 per cent in Year 6.

The bid documents also require the successful bidders to retain 10 per cent of the slot’s satellite capacity for government use. However, there’s no indication as to what the new owners might receive from government.

Moreover, the bidders are required to already be active in the satellite business with companies having trading worth 1 billion Baht or more.

Currently the slots are occupied by Thaicom and there is confusion over whether Thaicom 7 and Thaicom 8 are included. Thaicom says they are not and reportedly there’s arbitration underway. Thaicom is already in dispute with the government over its own compliance and whether payments are due to government.

However, what is a fact is that Thaicom’s 30-year concession to operate from the slots is up for renewal and is due to expire this year.


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