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Thailand's right to use the satellite orbit at 50.5° East is at risk of being revoked once it expires in 2025, as it has long been vacant.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's (NBTC) upcoming auctions for unclaimed orbit slots at 50.5° and 142° E have sparked industry speculation that they may fail. This is because the number of potential bidders is expected to fall short of the minimum requirement specified in the awarding conditions for these slots.

An anonymous NBTC source revealed that Thailand's right to the 50.5° E orbit slot would expire next year following an extension granted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The right to the 142° E slot expires in three years.

The NBTC intends to auction both slots this June after they went unclaimed in the previous January 2023 auction. The regulator conducted its inaugural auction for the use of satellite orbit slots last year, offering five packages: 50.5° and 51° E; 78.5° E; 119.5° E and 120° E; 126° E; and 142° E.

Space Tech Innovation (STI), a subsidiary of Thaicom, which is listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET), secured the second package for 380 million baht and the third for 417 million. National Telecom (NT)— a state-owned telecommunications company— won the fourth package for 9.07 million baht, while t he first and fifth packages went unsold.

The NBTC board and management are developing a new strategy for awarding the unclaimed slots in order to prevent the ITU from canceling them. According to an NBTC source, the draft includes alternative auction-based awarding methods such as a beauty contests, revenue-sharing, and direct slot awarding.

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