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Leniency sought on orbital slot usage
Leniency sought on orbital slot usage


Thailand is asking for a reprieve from its obligation to utilise its two key orbital slots and satellite frequencies granted by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) due to delays in the launch of a new satellite by Thaicom.

Information and Communications Technology Minister Juti Krairiksh said the ministry was now asking the Foreign Ministry to co-ordinate with the ITU on the utilisation of the orbital slots and frequencies as the satellite launch had suffered lengthy delays.

He said it was a matter of retaining the country's right to the satellite frequencies as there were several operators interested in the orbital positions and frequencies for business purposes.

Previously, former ICT Minister Ranongruk Suwunchwee said that China, France, Israel and India had shown interest in the local satellite sector and offered to construct and launch a satellite for Thailand. They also wanted satellite concessions.

An industry source said Thailand must ask for an extension of its utilisation of the slots and frequencies as many other countries want the frequencies for their own satellites.

If Thailand, counter to its commitments, did not launch a satellite, then the country might slide down the ITU's priority list, making it harder to get the better satellite frequencies in the future, he said.

Meanwhile, telecom expert Anuparp Thiralarp said Thailand had been granted two orbital slots.

One of the slots is at 120 degrees East where the Thaicom 1, which has already been deorbited, and iPSTAR satellites are located.

The other is at 78.5 degrees East where Thaicom 2, 3, and 5 were located. But currently only Thaicom 5 is in orbit while the other two had been decommissioned.

Mr Anuparp said current technological advancements could enable up to three satellites to use each slot, up from one previously.

Prior to launching a satellite, an operator has to first co-ordinate with the ITU over the slot and frequencies. There have been a number of cases where satellites were positioned close to each other, such as those of China and India, causing frequency interference, he said.

Another industry source said Thailand should have a new satellite rather than buy a satellite company.

But the country must assess its ability to manage the satellite system before launching a new satellite due to the rapid advancements in technology which add additional complications and risks to the operations.Thaicom's share price topped 180 baht in 1993 before plunging to 22 baht a decade later and to its lowest point of 3 baht last year. The company made 2 billion baht in profit in 2001 but suffered losses of 3 billion in 2007.
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