Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thailand - Govt planning to convert concessions to licences, after many years of consideration

[totaltele] Government has been trying to give private operators full licences for some time to level playing field.

Thailand's Ministry of Finance plans to propose to the Cabinet within a month a plan to convert existing telecommunications concessions, granted by state agencies to private mobile phone operators, into telecom licenses to ensure fair competition in the industry.

The Thai government has been trying for several years to resolve unfair competition in the telecom industry caused by differences in the details of the concessions granted to private operators by telecom state enterprises TOT PCL and CAT Telecom PCL. However, differences between the government and private operators on the valuation of the concessions have formed a key obstacle in previous attempts to convert the concessions.

The ministry's State Enterprise Policy Office has been assigned to work on the details of the plan, Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said late Monday.

Korn said he has discussed the matter with the Information and Communications Technology Minister Chuti Krairiksh, the industry regulator National Telecommunications Commission, TOT and CAT Telecom although he has yet to discuss it with private operators.

Thailand's key mobile phone operators include Advanced Info Service PCL, Total Access Communication Industry PCL, and True Move, a unit of telecom group True Corp. PCL.

The plan to convert the concessions will take place in tandem with the NTC's plan to hold an auction in September to issue three licenses for the 2.1 gigahertz spectrum, allowing mobile phone operators to offer 3G services that could be upgraded to 3.9G.

3G services allow users to transfer data and download content at substantially faster speeds than second-generation technology, while enabling more sophisticated applications such as video telephony, television on mobile phones and e-commerce transactions. Data transmission under 3.9G would be several times faster than conventional 3G.

Thailand to mull plan to convert telecom concessions in one month

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