Danish Help Connects Thai Telephones

Ever tried calling someone in Thailand just to get disconnected before you even get through? That annoyance might be about to disappear as Mach, an international company with Danish roots, is looking to help out the Thai operators.
Calls in Thailand might get blocked and disconnected if you are calling from one operator to another.
The reason: operators prioritise handling their own calls due to a poor settlement system to ensure smooth traffic between them.
But the disconnects might become history before the end of 2006 if Mach manages to win a contract that puts the international company and former subsidiary of Danish TDC in charge of the economic settlement of calls between operators – known as interconnect calls.
Per Villemoes, Director of Account Management at Mach, elaborates to ScandAsia:
“As Thailand has joined the WTO and the Thai telecom market is just about to be liberalised, the carriers need a system to handle this service and that gives us a unique opportunity in Thailand,” he says.

Doing the maths
To explain Mach’s interest in Thailand and vice versa Per Villemoes gives a short account of Mach’s main business, namely handling data clearing between mobile operators around the world.
“If a DTAC user from Thailand visits Denmark and uses the TDC network – it is called roaming and is only possible due to an agreement between the two operators. What we do is logging the call and making sure that the payments between the involved operators are being settled correctly and timely.”
“The benefit is, if operators use Mach’s services, they only have to settle their accounts in one place regardless of the number of roaming partners,” Per points out.
And seemingly a lot of operators find this smart as well – Mach’s clients make up a significant share of the approximately 750 global GSM operators.

The opportunity in Thailand
It is Mach’s services and experiences with international roaming calls that  attracted the Thai interest in the company.
 “Traffic between the Thai operators have been blocked due to the problems with interconnect calls. This is because the agreements between the companies are not in place. It is unsatisfying for the customers and something the operators want to change,” Per says and continues his explanation.
“Due to the nature of the market, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) recommends finding a neutral third party,” he hints.

Answer pending
The way calls are routed in Thailand works much like GSM mobile roaming calling – this and the fact the Mach is a neutral player in the Thai market are the main reasons that the company is now in talks with the Thai operators and the NTC.
Inside the next weeks NTC, the CAT and the TOT (Company handling the landlines in Thailand) is to give thumbs up or down for the project, and Mach is hoping for a positive outcome.
“We haven’t signed a contract yet – but we are hopeful that the outcome will be to our advantage and that we will have an opportunity to be part of this exciting telecom development in Thailand,” Per comments.
If Mach gets the contract, they count on having their system operational within 2006. But nothing is certain.
“It is likely that there may be delays due to the complexity of the solution and the many parties involved,” Per admits.

100.000.000 calls per day
It is not a small amount of data Mach is to deal with if they land the contract – with each call made between operators a data-file is created – logging duration of the calls etc. With almost ten different operators in Thailand Mach is looking at roughly 100 million files a day.
In order to deal with the assignment Mach plans to have a presence in Thailand in cooperation with their local partner Telesat.
“In the beginning we plan to send staff from our offices in Denmark and Luxembourg in order to get operations started. At the same time some of the processing will be done in our European operations – long term it is our general policy to be close to our clients, so it could be relevant to set up a regional office in Thailand,” the account manager says.

Expanding in SEA
Mach is not unknown to the Thai operators, as three of the large GMS operators namely – Dtac, True Move and AIS have been their customers for more than five years.
Looking at the entire Asian region, Mach is well established in the market, as they supply roaming services to a large amount of the GSM operators and have a regional office in Singapore. Still the company hopes to gain further if they get the contract in Thailand.
“There is definitely a possibility to expand further – both in Thailand and Asia, but I doubt we will see more opportunities like the one in Thailand, as most markets in the region have already gone through a national telecom liberalisation and is past that state.”
“But in Thailand it is sensible for the companies to buy the service, as establishing their own systems is an expensive manoeuvre,” Per finishes.

Mach facts:
Mach has more than 450 employees and provides inter-operator solutions to the
global telecom industry such as clearing and billing services within mobile roaming,
Interconnect and EDI.

Mach is the result of a merger in 2004 between Mach in Luxembourg and Danish Dan Net.
IBM and TDC founded Dan Net as a joint venture in Denmark in 1987.

Mach was founded in 1989 by the Millicom Group in Luxembourg.
Headquartered in Luxembourg, MACH has regional offices in Denmark,
U.K., Germany, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, India, U.S., Russia and Brazil.

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