Managing Spectrum Commons in Thailand: Allocation and Assignment Challenges
Spectrum is a natural and limited resource that needs to be handled both internationally and nationally because of its characteristic of propagation. Once transmitted, it propagates until the power runs out, and it does not recognize borders between countries. Spectrum is administered internationally by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The Radio Regulations (RR) is an international treaty that provides international guidelines on spectrum management to keep interference manageable by allocating spectrum to services internationally. Further, spectrum assignment for the provision of rights to use frequency is carried out nationally by the National Regulatory Authority (NRA). Three typical approaches of spectrum assignment are common-and-control, market-based, and spectrum commons.
The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the relationship between international and national regulations on how to implement spectrum commons in Thailand. It also illustrates the development of frequency allocation for spectrum commons at the international level and the transfer of international regulation for spectrum commons to Thai national regulation.
The results of this study present the connection between international regulation in the form of the RR and national regulation in the form of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) regulation in Thailand with regard to spectrum commons. The study also highlights challenges for Thailand in implementing spectrum commons in order to respond to the rapid growth of technology.
Spectrum commons is one of three typical assignment approaches providing non-exclusive rights to use frequency, i.e. no one owns the frequency. Spectrum commons regulation was established internationally by the RR during the international negotiations at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) by allocating spectrum to industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) applications. The majority of applications are in low-power devices or short-range devices. The relevant technologies concerning spectrum commons at the WRC-12 were software-defined radio (SDR) and cognitive radio systems (CRS) which encourage the sharing of spectrum with existing services and increase spectrum utilization. However, the transfer of international regulation of spectrum commons belongs to the NRA at national level.
The study uses the institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework to illustrate the relationship between international and national regulations in terms of world of actions: constitution, collective-choice, and operational level. However, the IAD framework only provides a list of questions that should be considered, not the detailed content regarding the implementation of spectrum commons.
To implement spectrum commons regulation, an understanding of the RR at international level assists local implementation at national level. The timely transfer of international regulation to national regulation provides opportunities to benefit from device innovation and technological advancement. Once economies of scale are achieved, the general public benefits from the reasonable price of devices. As it is not a manufacturing country for such devices, Thailand should follow spectrum commons regulation and prepare national regulation changes in order to gain the benefits of spectrum commons.
World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC)
Radio Regulations (RR)
institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework