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Thaicom’s 7 and 8 satellites

Thaicom’s 7 and 8 satellites will be forced to become an ICT Ministry concession

THAICOM’S commercial satellites operating under the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission’s licensing regime will be under an Information and Communication Technology Ministry concession as well, an ICT source said.

The satellites under NBTC licensing regime include Thaicom satellites 7 and 8. Any future commercial satellites to be launched between now and 2021 will also be subject to this condition, according to the preliminary conclusions of a meeting between the ministry and the NBTC last week, the source said.

Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong is to meet with the NBTC and the ministry today to discuss this recommendation, as the ICT Ministry continues to attempt to solve the redundant roles between the NBTC and the ministry in overseeing the commercial-satellite sector. If all relevant parties agree with the preliminary conclusion, its conditions will be added as a provisional clause in the draft of the new NBTC law, which is expected to be sent to the National Legislative Assembly for first reading soon.

Thaicom, Thailand’s sole commercial satellite operator, will face a higher regulatory fee if its two satellites under the NBTC licence are put into the concession system. The meeting’s recommendation calls for these two satellites to pay an annual concession fee to the ministry until 2021, in addition to their current licence fees payable to the NBTC. “According to the recommendation, from now until 2021, the satellites with NBTC licences will be regarded as operating under the concession. It’s not until after 2021 that they all, whether in the concession or the licensing regime, can stop paying the concession fee and pay only the licence fee,” the ministry source said. The year 2021 is when the concession of Thaicom satellites under the ministry expires. The Thaicom 7 and 8 satellites each holds an NBTC licence, while iPSTAR (Thaicom 4), Thaicom 5 and 6 operate under ICT Ministry concessions.

The annual licence fee is 4.25 per cent of Thaicom’s gross revenue, while the annual concession fee is 20.5 per cent of its revenue.

Thaicom 7 paid a licence fee of Bt1 million in 2014 and Bt300 million in 2015. Thaicom 8 was just launched into orbit last month. The meeting’s recommendation also calls for Thaicom to pay Bt3 million per satellite to the ICT Ministry to cover the cost of reserving an orbital slot for a future Thaicom satellite. The ministry will also ask Thaicom 7 and 8 satellites to pay for this cost on a retroactive basis.

“All these conditions will also be applied to any future satellite operators,” the source said. The Transport Ministry granted a 30-year concession contract to Thaicom in 1991, and the concession was later transferred to the ICT Ministry.

After the NBTC got off the ground in 2011, it began taking care of subsequently launched Thaicom satellites.

Thaicom pays 5.5 per cent of gross revenue as concession fee during the first five years of operation before rising at an incremental rate until 2021.

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