On 14 August 2019, through the issuance of an official Notification, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (the “NBTC”) established a sandbox regime to facilitate technology testing for businesses and in preparation for the adoption of 5G technologies in Thailand.
The Notification re: the Criteria for Permitting Frequency Use For Innovation Development and Testing In A Sandbox Area (the “Sandbox Notification”) allows sandbox participants to use certain frequencies and conduct frequency testing, within a limited sandbox area, for the development and testing of equipment, network, or system, which is done to obtain a finished product. The sandbox license will be granted for R&D and pre-commercialization purposes, but not for business operation nor any profit-making activities.
The Sandbox Notification permits the NBTC to consider certain areas to be sandbox areas, including areas within the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) promotional zones, areas in public and private universities, industrial estate areas, etc.
There are two relevant parties under the Sandbox Notification:
(1) Sandbox operator
“Sandbox operator” refers to an entity, which has received approval from the NBTC to utilize an area for frequency testing and use according to the Sandbox Notification (i.e. a sandbox area).
Any entity wishing to establish a sandbox area must submit a Letter of Intent and a sandbox operational plan to the NBTC, and satisfy the requirements under the Sandbox Notification. Once approved, the sandbox operator would have the obligation to coordinate between the NBTC and the sandbox license applicants/holders within its sandbox area.
(2) Sandbox license holder
“Sandbox license holder” refers to a participant in a sandbox who has received a license from the NBTC for frequency use within the sandbox area.
A sandbox license should be for one of the following objectives:
(i) research and development, experimentation, or testing of a new technology; (ii) test for interference or shared use of a spectrum between different technologies; or (iii) test the network system prior to commercial use.
An applicant for a sandbox license must, among other things, be a governmental entity or a juristic person registered under Thai law, and must have obtained approval from the sandbox operator to operate within the sandbox area.
The sandbox license holder shall have certain obligations, as follows:
(i) carrying on activities within the specified objectives as provided in its sandbox license application; (ii) set in place cybersecurity and data protection measures; (iii) report its progress to the sandbox operator every three months; and (iv) must not charge any fees from the operation within the sandbox, conduct commercial business, nor provide service in connection with any existing telecommunications services.
The sandbox license has a term of 360 days and is extendable. However, the maximum term of the sandbox license is 720 days (approx. two years).
On 3 October 2019, the NBTC will hold a public seminar in order to provide further details and guidance regarding the sandbox regulatory regime.