Norwegian-Controlled Firm DTAC Opposes Thai Regulations for Telecom Industry

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) board last week approved the draft of revised regulations on preventing foreign dominance in the local telecom industry. Norwegian-Controlled Firm DTAC is concerned the draft could be used to challenge the qualifications of prospective bidders for the upcoming 3G licensing auction.

The draft will take effect next week according to Col Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the NBTC’s telecom committee. The revised regulation followed a public hearing held by a subcommittee last December.
Col Settapong said the NBTC believes the new foreign dominance regulation will not be a tool allowing another party to disrupt the third-generation (3G) licensing auction on the 2100-MHz frequency scheduled for this October.

He said that the rule is designed to help local telecom operators avoid breaching the Telecommunications Business Act and the Foreign Business Act and not deter foreign investment.
Earlier, the head of trade and economic affairs for the EU delegation to Thailand met with NBTC members for clarification of the rule.

Col Settapong said the foreign dominance regulation is largely focused on Thai firms, preventing possible dominance with foreign shareholding capped at 49%.

At last month’s public hearing, Thailand’s second largest GSM mobile phone provider DTAC said it is concerned the draft could be used to challenge the qualifications of prospective bidders for the upcoming 3G licensing auction.

DTAC strongly opposes both the existing and revised regulations, saying existing laws such as the Foreign Business Act are enough to govern it.

The board also approved the draft of the must-carry rule for broadcasting service after a public consultation on Monday. The final draft will be submitted to the Royal Gazette this week.

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