First Batch of Licenses for LEO Satellite Slots issued by NBTC

The telecom regulator, NBTC, awarded the initial consignment of licenses for the right to use slots on the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite to four companies and one school. The license issuance was in acquiescence with guidelines that they will be activated in February 2021. The regulation is expected to open a pathway to shift the satellite sector from the concessions model into a real licensing model.

The licenses will have fifteen years’ validity, and the initial five licensees are expected to make use of the satellites to carry out geographical studies for national security. 

The five are the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, the Navaminda Kasatriyadhiraj Royal Thai Air Force Academy, Bangkok Christian College, the Air Force Electronic Communications Department and Amateur Radio Association of Thailand under Royal Patronage. 

According to Gen. Sukit Khamasundara, the chairman of National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC), the licenses are meant for the non-stationary orbit satellites that include the LEOs and the medium Earth orbit satellites which are not big and can be launched in thousands.

The LEO satellites are operated between 500 and 2,000 km, which is very near the Earth’s surface compared to the 36,000km on which geostationary satellites, which are traditional communication satellites, operate. The LEO satellites’ orbit has an advantage due to their lower potential. The orbit will offer benefits to all those linked to the high-speed internet services through the Internet of Things gadgets, 5G technology, machine-to-machine technology as well as drone technology and uses in fields that need precise accuracy like remote surgery. When launched, the satellites will be expected to assist in television signal transmission for tasks like exploration, navigation, and photography and bring out a high quality of clarity. 

According to Air Marshal Thanapant Raichareon, deputy secretary-general for NBTC, all the parties interested in the operation of businesses related to LEO openings should make applications for the right to the spaces for both commercial and non-commercial uses at the NBTC offices. 

The methods to award the licenses are planned to be publicly heard in November, and this move is per the NBTC law, and the governments projected plans to shift the satellite sector to real licensing from concessions. According to AM Thanapant, there are seven available slots to be offered, including 50.5 E, 51 E,78.5 E, 119.5 E, 120 E, 126 E, and 142 E. they are further divided into four categories. During the bidding, prospective bidders are expected to specify which variety of orbital slots they would prefer.