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September 2017

GOVT TO TAKE OVER THAICOM-9


With the ousting of Thaksin Shinawatra as Thailand's prime minister in 2006 and his younger sister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014, the Thai government is relooking at the spate of concessions that were 'granted' to the Shinawatra Group of companies, in those years.


THAICOM

Thaicom, a Shiniwatra Group company, was established on 7 November 1991 with investments from INTOUCH.

Thaicom (earlier Shin Satellite Co), a private owned company was granted a 30-year Domestic Communication Satellite Operating Agreement by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The agreement provided for Thaicom to own and operate satellites in orbital slots granted to Thailand, for a mere 5.75% license fee paid to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).




RIGHTS REVIEWED

The current government has reviewed the earlier license and dictated that it be replaced by a new license regime.


THAICOM SATS

Today, Thaicom operates 3 satellites under the 5.75% license.

 Thaicom 4 (iPSTAR), a broadband sat @ 119.5 E

 Thaicom 5 and 6, both broadcast sats @ 78.5 East.

The concessions for Thaicom 4 & 5 will expire in 2021.


NEW 20% LICENSE FEE

The Thai government has called Thaicom to pay a license fee of 20.5% for all new satellite licenses. This is a sharp increase from the earlier 5.4% fee.


THAICOM-9 NATIONALISED

Thaicom plans to launch Thaicom-9 by 2019 to replace Thaicom-4 & Thaicom-10 to replace Thaicom-5.

However, the government has stepped in and disallowed Thaicom to completely own the new satellites.

Negotiations have been on for months to work out a new licensing, ownership & operational structure for Thaicom-9 & 10.

Vunnaporn Devahastin, secretary-general of the Office of the National Digital Economy and Society Commission, confirmed that the new satellite at 119.5 East will be called "The National Satellite" instead of Thaicom-9.


NEW OWNERSHIP TERMS

The government will take partial control of the new satellite, 'to channel the benefits of the space economy to the general public.'

"State telecom enterprise CAT Telecom will probably be assigned to partly operate and manage the state satellite," Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong told the press.

CAT will partially invest in or operate the new satellite.

Details of alternative management framework are expected by end August.


3 OPTIONS

high-ranking source at CAT, who asked not to be named, said there were 3 alternatives:

1. CAT leads the operation with the private sector joining in the investment;

2. A Public-Private Joint Venture, or

3. Thaicom manages operation and CAT buys 30% of transponder capacity.

CAT already has 3 satellite ground stations in Nonthaburi, Chon Buri and Udon Thani. If it decides to lead Thailand's future satellite operations, the Thai government will have to approach the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for an orbital slot, since all current orbital slots have been allotted to Thaicom.

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