Thai Senate committee discusses foreign satellite regulations

Anantaporn Kanchanarat (third from left). Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post

The Thai Senate committee yesterday met to focus on information technology, communication, and telecommunications and convened to discuss the proposed changes by the state telecommunications regulatory body regarding the regulations governing the utilisation of foreign-owned satellites to offer domestic telecommunications services.

The gathering presided over by General Anantaporn Kanchanarat, focused on assessing concerns and suggestions raised by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), which has been seeking to revise the parameters of its regulatory policies, reported Bangkok Post.

Among the principal issues voiced during the meeting were the apparent disadvantages faced by domestic satellite service providers in comparison to their foreign counterparts, a topic which drew significant attention and debate. It appeared to be the popular consensus that while customers may stand to benefit from an increase in available options, the alleged inequality could serve to hamper the interests of local businesses.

In recent times, companies such as Thaicom and National Telecom have poured millions of baht into securing their licenses. While the aforementioned businesses continue to strive for dominance in the domestic marketplace, international providers of satellite services are only required to part with a comparatively meagre sum of 2 million baht in order to obtain a license valid for five years, thereby permitting them to operate in Thailand. So stark is the contrast in the monetary outlay demanded of foreign and local operators that the issue of competitive equilibrium necessitated a further investigation by the committee.

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An additional proposal was also carefully examined, as the Senate reviewed the potential of expanding satellite services from telecom to include aerial and maritime transportation such as aviation, seagoing vessels and high-speed rail travel. These proposed advancements would then extend to both domestic and international providers, offering increased connectivity on a global scale.

To facilitate an informed decision on any potential amendments to the extant regulations, the NBTC will spend the foreseeable future gathering data and ascertaining the opinions of the general public. This information will ultimately be weighed and analysed by the organisation’s board, who are expected to reach a consensus on the proposed changes by October.

The issue of satellite service regulation will undoubtedly continue to remain a prominent focal point of debate as the year progresses. Whatever the outcome of the NBTC’s review, the committee’s efforts to maintain a fair and level playing field for all satellite service providers, both domestically and internationally, will be crucial in shaping the future of telecommunication services in Thailand.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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