Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thailand - An operator has proposed new licences all round as the solution to spectrum disputes

[bangkok post] True Move, the country's third-largest mobile operator, has reiterated its call for the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to issue new 15-year mobile licences for all operators to end disputes over concession amendments.

Without a change in the concession system, negotiations over past amendments between private operators and the two state enterprises: TOT Plc and CAT Telecom, could not be settled, said Suphachai Chearavanont, the chief executive of True Corp.

"We will not compensate CAT for damage claimed as a result of concession amendments. We would rather negotiate under new conditions," he said.

Mr Suphachai is scheduled to meet this week with the negotiation committee, chaired by Jeerawan Boonperm, the permanent secretary of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry.

He acknowledged that True Move's concession differed from those of Advanced Info Service (AIS) and DTAC. The company operates on the 1800 MHz spectrum similar to the AIS subsidiary Digital Phone Co (DPC). The state enterprises claim the frequency allocation to True Move breached the 1992 Public-Private Joint Venture Act.

AIS and DTAC, meanwhile, are being asked to pay compensation claimed by the state enterprises for extensions of their concessions, even though the state enterprises approved the changes.

"Our standpoint on the negotiation is that we will pay compensation as the state demands if the state or the NBTC issues us a new licence for 15 years, giving us the rights to the frequency and to operate the business legitimately," said Mr Suphachai.

He said that in any case, he believed the current negotiations would not lead to a conclusion as the country is now preparing for an election in late June or early July. Consequently, politicians and civil servants alike might be reluctant to make any decision in the current political climate, he said.

True Move has reportedly submitted a proposal to compensate the state under one of the following conditions: conversion of its concession, replacing existing concessions with a new licences, extending its concession period for an additional 15 years to 2028; scrapping the condition requiring True Move to transfer all assets built from 2013-28 to CAT; and a three-year grace period before beginning revenue-sharing payments in September 2016.

True proposes new licences for all firms

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