The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) board has reversed its stance on its requirement for telecom infrastructure funds to seek telecom licences, saying these funds are just financial tools to raise capital.
The board also assigned management to draw up a regulatory draft to determine all telecom infrastructure funds are not subject to requirements for a telecom licence.
A source at the NBTC board who requested anonymity told the Bangkok Post the board passed this resolution on Nov 24.
The move is a U-turn based on previous NBTC resolutions requiring all infrastructure funds to apply for a type 3 telecom operation licence, which involves having their own telecom networks.
Existing telecom infrastructure funds listed on the stock market have never applied for telecom licences from the NBTC, although the regulator informed them before listing that they needed licences for their operations.
There are three telecom infrastructure funds listed on the SET: Digital Telecommunications Infra Fund (DIF), formally known as TRUE Telecommunications Growth Infra Fund (TRUEIF); Jasmine Broadband Internet Infra Fund (JASIF); and INET Leasehold Real Estate Investment Trust (INETREIT).
“The board quickly passed the new resolution for unclear reasons, but they may have known the previous resolutions must be revoked,” the source said.
The new regulatory draft is to serve as a tool to free infrastructure funds from the licensing regime, the source said.
In June, the NBTC board assigned its management to draft a regulation governing telecom infrastructure funds.
The draft, which was completed in October, contains accommodative elements for such funds, such as waiving the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fee and the annual fee.
The board has not yet approved the draft, though it has been submitted for consideration twice.
The source indicated the latest resolution is meant to eliminate ambiguity about whether telecom infrastructure funds need to obtain telecom licences to operate because of interpretation of different laws.
The source said Advanced Info Service, the country’s largest mobile operator by subscriber base, is also interested in launching a telecom infrastructure fund to reduce its investment cost in the long run.
The fund’s assets can be used as collateral to seek loans, the source said.Internet Explorer Channel Network