No rocket science: Space and satellite business in Thailand

How to win one of four satellite network packages in Thailand

Space industry covers business activities related to the manufacturing of components that go into Earth’s orbit or beyond. It covers the full range of activities and resources that create and provide value and benefits in the course of exploring, understanding, managing, and utilizing space. The main sectors are satellite and their subsystems manufacture, including satellite environment testing, ground equipment manufacturing, and service sector, as well as rocket-launch services, vehicle manufacturing, and subsystem manufacturing.

New Thai legislation: The NBTC Act has been enforced at the end of 2019 and provides a more solid basis for satellite businesses in Thailand. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission acts as the sole agency governing all related satellite businesses. It took this over from the Digital Economy and Society Ministry, which managed a cumbersome concession regime for more than three decades. The new liberalized system promises attractive business opportunities even for foreign investors.

Licenses instead of concessions: Under the new NBTC framework, private satellite investments need a licensing for (i) the sky operation, (ii) landing rights, (iii) the orbital slot space and (iv) the ground segment business. as transmission antennas and equipment for converting signals to an internet protocol signal for terrestrial connectivity. The provided orbital slot space is reserved by the NBTC from the International Telecommunication Union. The ITU, formerly International Telegraph Union is the oldest global international organization and a specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies.

Four packages in 2021: In June 2020, the NBTC has allotted four packages of satellite network filings subject to allocation for interested bidders early next year. The bidder will be selected either by a so-called beauty contest or by holding an auction. The procedure will be decided by NBTC in 2020, based on a public hearing to be scheduled for July 2020. The first package consists of 50.5 E and 51 E and the second concerns 78.5 E. The third involves 119.5 E and 120 E and the fourth is for 126 E and 142 E. The orbital slots in first and fourth packages are currently unoccupied. 


Low Earth Orbit satellite business: LEO satellites operate between 500- 2,000 km above the Earth’s surface compared to the 36,000 km height of geostationary satellites. LEO business is opened up by an amendment to the Space Affairs Act. The advantage of the lower orbit is lower latency. Areas of application are drone technology and areas that require high levels of accuracy, such as remote surgery, 

Thailand’s NASA: Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, is a Thai space agency and space research organization. It is responsible for remote sensing and technology development satellites. GISTDA operates the satellites Cosmo-SkyMed, KOMPSAT, LANDSAT-5, RADARSAT-2, and Thaichote. Another stakeholder in Thailand’s satellite business is the National Science and Technology Development Agency. NSTDA is a government agency established to promote the development of science and technology for Thailand. It operates autonomously with guidance and support of policies set by the National Science and Technology Development Board.

“Orbital slots will be rented out on a first-come, first-served basis”

PUGNATORIUS Ltd. is the Bangkok-based specialist provider of legal services and tax advice on foreign investments in Thailand’s manufacturing and service industries as well as property acquisitions and developments. Sophisticated solutions in a complex legal environment. Serious legal and tax advice in the land of smile.

Professional services: The liberalization of competition in the satellite business creates opportunities for foreign satellite companies in space as well as the ground segment. To develop Thai satellites, to bring foreign satellites and payload into space, to use foreign satellite channels in Thailand, to develop and launch space missions are just a few of new business opportunities. The law firm is pleased to discuss new ideas and ventures and to offer efficient support.

Bidding process: The law firm advises, assists, and represents international bidders in the public hearing, the auction or the beauty contest to obtain one of the license packages from the NBTC. 

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Disclaimer: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. This low-resolution high-level outlook constitutes neither legal advice, nor an attorney-client relationship, nor equips with the insights, tools or skills to do this without the Bangkok investment law firm.

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