DTAC warns against new regulations [Bangkok Post, Thailand]
(Bangkok Post (Thailand) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 22--New regulations to prevent foreign dominance of the telecom market are expected to take effect in August.
More than 200 people attended yesterday's public hearing on the draft rules at an event organised by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission.
Executives of Total Access Communication (DTAC), the country's second-largest mobile operator (controlled by Norway's Telenor), came out in opposition to the draft rules.
Darmp Sukontasap, chief corporate affairs officer for DTAC, called efforts to revise foreign dominance regulations needless because existing laws, namely the Foreign Business Act, control foreign dominance in the telecom sector.
"I strongly believe that someone will file charges against some 3G licence bidders under the new regulation to question the bidder's nationality," he said. "If this happens, it will probably cause the 3G auction to collapse."
Advanced Info Service, the country's largest mobile operator, is also controlled by foreign entities, namely Singapore's Temasek Holdings and Singtel.
The third major operator, True Move, is held by True Corporation, which in turn is controlled by the Charoen Pokphand conglomerate.
Mr Darmp said all three mobile operators are expected to join the 3G licence bidding later this year. If one of the bidders is challenged on its nationality, the verification process will probably be settled in court.
"Then we would have only two bidders left in the auction, which would likely result in the entire process being suspended," said Mr Darmp.
The NBTC plans to auction 45 MHz of bandwidth on the 2100-MHz frequency, split into nine slots.
All three mobile operators are expected to compete for the licences to free themselves from revenue-sharing agreements with the two state telecom enterprises, TOT Plc and CAT Telecom.
Last November, DTAC filed a complaint at the Central Administrative Court claiming that the foreign-dominance regulations were illegal and unconstitutional.
True Corp, meanwhile, welcomed the regulations as a tool to keep foreign entities from competing against local telecom operators for key spectrum licences, citing national security.
At yesterday's public hearing, different opinions were floated, especially about security and the foreign role in telecom.
NBTC member Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn said the telecom committee would study the draft law again after the public hearing. The draft will be sent to the NBTC board for approval and then published in the Royal Gazette.Under the draft, operators must report foreign shareholding to the NBTC annually. If found in excess, operators will be required to take corrective action.
The draft does not touch on questions of national security, nor does it require the NBTC to consult with other agencies if it finds a licence holder has violated the 49% foreign shareholding limit.
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