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  1. #1
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    True-CAT model is a wake-up call

    http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/loca...a-wake-up-call

    True-CAT model is a wake-up call

    The government is embarking on an overhaul of the troublesome mobile phone concession regime, with the recent pact between True Corp and CAT Telecom seen as a model for restructuring the industry.

    Officials have also been in talks with SK Telecom of South Korea and NTT DoCoMo of Japan to carry Advanced Info Service's mobile business in the worst-case scenario of the top-ranked operator failing to pay 74 billion baht compensation demanded by TOT Plc for damages resulting from changes to past contracts, a government source said.

    The source said the overhaul was aimed at resolving the chronic problems impeding industry development, notably the inability to offer 3G wireless broadband service at a time when most other countries offer it and many are now preparing to launch 4G.

    The present problems are rooted in a series of amendments _ some of them dating back as far as 15 years _ made to concessions between major operators and the two state telecom enterprises, TOT and CAT Telecom.

    The Council of State, the government's legal adviser, concluded in 2007 that many of the changes, such as contract extensions and revisions in revenue-sharing terms, breached the 1992 Public-Private Joint Venture Act.

    The Act requires special scrutiny of agreements for ventures worth one billion baht or more, with cabinet approval in some cases.

    An investigative committee looking into all of the amendments forwarded its recommendations to the Information and Communications Technology Ministry.

    The ministry last week opened talks with the private operators and state telecoms in an attempt to arrive at compensation figures.

    The ICT Ministry committee overseeing the talks has asked the operators to propose a compensation formula by Friday.

    The final compensation payment would not necessarily be the same as that proposed by the investigative committee or claimed by the state telecoms, said the government source, who has been part of a team looking into industry reform for the past three months.

    "Compensation could be settled between the state telecoms and operators," he said.

    "The payments could be spread over 15 to 20 years to ease the financial burden on operators."

    TOT wants AIS to pay it 74 billion baht, including 40 billion in losses from the reduction of prepaid revenue-sharing.

    For CAT, it is estimated that amendments for second-ranked mobile phone operator DTAC cost the state enterprise more than 20 billion baht, True Move 6billion and Digital Phone Co 3 billion to 4 billion baht.

    The source said the reform plan was intended to solve private companies' problems and also help TOT and CAT survive as viable businesses in the future. They presently depend heavily on concession revenue payments.

    "For a way out, we are looking to demand that private operators compensate [TOT and CAT] for losses from past concession amendments, to end the old concession system and shift to a new business model," he said.

    The source said that if the state enterprises and private operators failed to negotiate payments, the issue would go to the cabinet.

    Another option is to take the case to the Civil Court, which would decide whether to accept it or recommend arbitration.

    The study team has outlined a plan to draft a new contract model based on a wholesale-resale agreement, under National Telecommunications Commission regulations.

    The source acknowledged that True Move was seen as a test case because of the urgency of its situation.

    Its concession is due to end in 2013, while AIS's concession will end in 2015 and DTAC's in 2018.

    When True acquired the small Hutch mobile business, in which CAT was also a partner, an opportunity arose for True and CAT to draw up a new working arrangement, resulting in a 3G service wholesale-resale contract lasting 14 years.

    The source said top executives of the three major mobile operators had acknowledged the government's intentions. If they agreed with the plan, they would have to return their frequency rights to CAT and TOT.

    They would then enter rental contracts to use the state telecoms' equipment and networks under new business conditions.
    "Slavery is the daughter of darkness; an ignorant people is the blind instrument of its own destruction; ambition and intrigue take advantage of the credulity and inexperience of men who have no political, economic or civil knowledge. They mistake pure illusion for reality, license for freedom, treason for patriotism, vengeance for justice."-Simón Bolívar

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by StrontiumDog
    The government is embarking on an overhaul of the troublesome mobile phone concession regime, with the recent pact between True Corp and CAT Telecom seen as a model for restructuring the industry.
    Presumably this means if you are a mobile phone operator, you will now be effectively going to asking true for permission to import telecoms equipment.

    Given how delays in issuing these permits have been a cause of complaint by DTAC and AIS, I can only imagine they are overwhelmed by this.

    Its interesting to note how much inconvenience they will put the country too, just to make sure a thai company has a compensative advantage over its two large foreign owned competitors. I'm sure there could be thailand the hub of something announcement there.

  3. #3
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    http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/loca...-into-quitting

    AIS lawsuit threat spooks half of TOT's board into quitting

    Nearly half of the board members of TOT Plc have tendered their resignations over the past two days for fear of a possible legal backlash over the state enterprise's move to demand compensation from mobile market leader Advanced Info Service.

    Five of the 12 board members decided to quit because they were unhappy with the board's decision to submit the AIS compensation case for approval at a meeting tomorrow, TOT sources said.

    TOT is under pressure from the government to pursue massive compensation from AIS over a series of amendments to its concession.

    The amendments, made on separate occasions to reduce AIS's revenue sharing for its pre-paid mobile phone service, caused TOT to lose some 74 billion baht in income from the operator, according to the government.

    A TOT board member said yesterday the directors who quit were concerned that they would be subject to legal action from AIS if the private concessionaire fought back against the state telecom enterprise's compensation demand.

    Three of the five board members submitted their resignations on Tuesday: Wanchati Santikoonchorn, Wanee Touchsanamomtien and Nutchanart Pantawangkoon. The two others who submitted their resignation letters yesterday were Djitt Laowattana and Verathai Suntipraphop.

    Dr Djitt admitted he had decided to resign from the board as he no longer wanted the job. He declined to elaborate and refused to say whether any more members would resign.

    Another board member, who asked not to be named, said the directors had gradually quit because they were frustrated at the government's pressure on TOT to demand compensation from AIS.

    He said TOT had failed to comply with Section 22 of the 1992 Public-Private Joint Venture Act, before the state enterprise sent a notice to AIS to demand 74 billion baht in compensation from past concession amendments.

    Section 22 requires state enterprises doing business with private firms to set up committees to follow up their work to ensure that both comply with their agreements.

    "It is the government's right to protect the interests of the nation [by pushing for the compensation]," the board member said.

    "But if the state does not strictly comply with the regulation, the TOT board, not the politicians, will be subject to lawsuits from the private company."

    The source also said there was little chance that TOT would be able to collect the 74 billion baht it believes AIA owes it.

    The Supreme Court found on Feb 26 last year that former premier Thaksin Shinawatra had abused his authority as head of government to secure changes favourable to member companies of Shin Corp, in which his family had a majority holding before they sold it to Singapore's Temasek Holdings in 2006.

    "The court ruled Thaksin had abused his authority, not AIS or the company's executives," the source said.

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    Thai telecom - carnal politics at its worst | Telecom Asia

    Thai telecom - carnal politics at its worst

    Don Sambandaraksa | April 29, 2011
    Amitiae

    There have been many attempts to try and make sense of the telco industry in Thailand; why state telco and concession holder CAT allowed TrueMove to take over Hutch and launch an HSPA 3G network and why fellow state telco TOT has been so slow in signing off the 3G expansion project bid that was won by a consortium of Nokia-Siemens and Huawei.

    In the TOT case in particular, the board refused to sign off the project until a few days ago after something happened under the radar.

    Both projects could land both state enterprise boards in deep trouble for irregularities. The CAT decision seems a blatant breach of the Constitution that calls for a moratorium on frequency reallocation until the NBTC is up and running, not to mention tilting the playing field in favour of TrueMove (or was it TrueMove H, or was it RealMove? And why have so many names at all?)

    The TOT decision is bizarre in that ZTE was kicked out for offering too much network capacity in the technical round and was not allowed to bid. If ZTE wants to offer more capacity in an auction, what is to stop them? Well, the technical guys at TOT, that's who.

    While many analysts have been left scratching their heads, the answer to everything is simple. It is an election year.

    This is not about technology. This is not public policy. This is raw, carnal, money politics at its worst.

    Someone is cashing in to raise funds for the election, plain and simple. Nobody cares about rule of law, due process, fair and level playing fields or any other concept that is remotely civilised. It is about money and the need for money in the run-up to the elections.

    DTAC almost launched its own 3G network alongside fellow CAT concessionaire TrueMove. Almost. The clincher was that in order to be given CAT's blessing to do so, they would have to sign away their right to sue CAT in the future. DTAC's new CEO obviously has the guts to know enough is enough and pushed back, suing CAT in the administrative court to halt the TrueMove deal.

    Some in DTAC say that the company only has to tell CAT that it is performing an in-band migration network upgrade rather than ask for permission. CAT, in its infinite wisdom, has neither said yes or no and is taking its time, five years and counting, to decide. That is regulation by running the clock out.

    TrueMove/RealMove/TrueMove H (pick one, will you?) hit back, calling a press conference and painting itself as the kind, caring face of a Thai minnow battling for national pride and the rights of the poor one million Hutch users against the evil Telenorwegians.

    Colourful rhetoric perhaps, but it sidesteps the question of True gaining a backdoor de-facto concession. Nor does it address the issue of how granting RealMove rights to do commercial 3G implicitly also allows TrueMove’s test network, on a different part of the 850 spectrum, to go commercial; spectrum that DTAC claims is overlapping 2.5 MHz of its old 1G AMPS network.

    And where is the regulator, the valiant enlightened seven great ones (as they were coined by media) of the National Telecommunications Commission? One key role of a regulator is to guard industry from short-term politics, something they are obviously not doing. NTC Commissioner Natee Sukonrat has gone on record saying that 850 MHz an internal matter between CAT and its concessionaires.
    It is an election year, people. Welcome to Thailand.

    Don Sambandaraksa is a former reporter with the Bangkok Post. He now writes for the tech blog Amitiae

  5. #5
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    Bangkok Post : War of words heats up

    Business > Telecommunications

    War of words heats up

    TDRI, True trade barbs over CAT deal True Corporation and the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) have exchanged sharp words over the controversial deal between True and its concession owner CAT Telecom, with the leaders of both sides elaborating their own positions on the issue.



    Somkiat Tangkitvanich, a vice-chairman of the TDRI, repeated his claim that the deal amounted to a "pseudo-concession".

    Contracts under the deal cannot be separated, nor can they stand on their own, thus violating Section 5 of the Public-Private Joint Venture Act of 1992, he said.

    Suphachai Chearavanont, True's president and chief executive, reiterated his view that the deal is a win-win solution and simply a "natural business agreement" under the new telecom regime, not the old-fashioned monopoly system to which the act is often applied.

    He warned Dr Somkiat not to make public his views on the deal as long as he does not have an in-depth knowledge of the contract details.

    Mr Suphachai pointed out that Dr Somkiat is "only an engineer who is unskilled in legal interpretations".

    The True contract, hastily arranged after the company acquired the small Hutch mobile business in which CAT has been a shareholder, runs for 14 years. Signing it removed a huge uncertainty about what would happen after True's existing mobile concession with CAT expires in 2013.

    The deal was heavily criticised after CAT granted four major wholesale-resale contracts to the True subsidiaries Real Move and Real Future to provide 3G wireless broadband service using high-speed packet access technology.

    True is now being scrutinised by investigative committees, the Office of the Auditor-General and the TDRI for possible violations of the Spectrum Allocation Act and the Public-Private Joint Venture Act.

    Meanwhile, second-ranked operator Total Access Communication (DTAC) filed a complaint on April 25 with the Central Administrative Court, arguing the agreements between True and CAT stifled competition and were unlawful and discriminatory.

    DTAC also asked the court to issue an injunction requiring CAT to refrain from executing the obligations under the agreements until all relevant authorities have reviewed and approved the transaction in accordance with established procedures.

    The court is scheduled to hear arguments tomorrow.

    Dr Somkiat called the wholesale-resale contracts "unusual" in that they favoured True, particularly the condition reserving 80% of the state enterprise's 3G network capacity to True, thereby limiting the number of potential operators sharing the facility.

    "Apart from TOT, True is now the only private operator providing 3G wireless broadband service under the CAT agreements," he said.

    Dr Somkiat called the 14 billion baht in revenue projected for the state telecom enterprise "too little", as it did not include frequency value.

    CAT should be entitled to 23.5 billion baht with a wholesale margin of 35% instead of the present 23%.

    Dr Somkiat slammed CAT by saying the state telecom enterprise not only allowed True to provide 3G service, but also caused CAT to suspend its decision to approve DTAC's request for 3G commercial trials.

    "These practices by the state enterprise give True a huge advantage," he said.

    "It's no surprise that a report compiled by CAT's financial advisers BNC and Value Partners forecasts True will increase its market share by 5% after providing 3G service ahead of the others."

    True will have access to a free 3G network while the other operators must pay auction fees for spectrum usage, said Dr Somkiat.

    Also, the contract could force the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to lower the reserve price for the 3G licensing auction, initially set at 13 billion baht.

    All money from the auction is earmarked as state revenue.

    Dr Somkiat also took exception to True's claim that the contracts have been scrutinised by a dozen leading legal experts and financial consultants, saying that most of these people worked for True or CAT.

    He also urged the Office of the Attorney-General to review the entire investigation process to determine whether the OAG has done its duty under the law that establishes the office.

    True said in a statement yesterday that its 80% of CAT's 3G network capacity originated from the old Hutch-CAT contract. It is based on the proportion of their subscribers and not a new benefit.


    SOMKIAT TANGKITVANICH
    Vice Chairman, Thailand Development Research Institute

    ‘True will have access to a free 3G network while the other operators must pay auction fees for spectrum usage.’

    - The Hutch deal is a “pseudo-concession”.

    - The contract gives True the right to use 80% of CAT Telecom's 3G network, leaving 20% available to other operators.

    - The contract violates both the Spectrum Allocation Act and the Public-Private Joint Venture Act.

    - CAT Telecom should be entitled to revenue of 23.5 billion baht over 14.5 years based on a wholesale margin of 35%, instead of 14 billion baht based on a margin of 23% as stipulated under the contract.

    - The contract means a loss of 39 billion baht in spectrum auction fees.




    SUPHACHAI CHEARAVANONT
    President and CEO, True Corp

    ‘Dr Somkiat should not make public his views on the deal as long as he does not have an in-depth knowledge of the contract details.’

    - The Hutch deal is a natural business agreement under the new telecom regime.

    - The deal is clearly a win-win solution and has been approved by the attorney-general.

    - True simply acts as a 3G reseller under the contract, similar to the existing MVNO operators of TOT Plc.

    - The 3G spectrum is still owned by CAT Telecom, not True.



    Writer: Srisamorn Phoosuphanusorn
    Position: Business Reporter
    .

    “.....the world will little note nor long remember what we say here....."

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    Thailand's telco tribulations | Business Report Thailand

    May 14, 2011 |



    In around the middle of 2010, the stars became somewhat aligned so as to enable some essential and long-awaited reforms in the telecom sector to start to take shape. There had been a recent change in ICT Minister (now a Democrat); pressure was on the State Owned Enterprises to start to realise life without the life-saving mobile concession revenues, the 3G auction was taking shape and most importantly a project had kicked off to reform the out-dated, rent-seeking concession system. Dubbed ‘K2’ to signify the scale of the challenge, it sought to deal with the mobile concessions, fixed line concessions and lay the basis for a broadband future. Too ambitious? In any event it stalled. Business Report Thailand has covered these developments in its first issue.

    Back to where we left off.

    On 23 September 2010 the Supreme Administrative Court rejected the NTC’s appeal against the injunction issued by the Central Administrative Court on grounds that although a 3G auction was in the public interest, it had to be legitimate. The suit had been initiated by the management of one State-Owned Enterprise (CAT). The effect of the appeal ruling was that unless there was some judicial decision to the contrary, new spectrum issuance (3G licensing) should not be expected until after the new merged regulator – the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) was formed, which would first require passage of the new Frequency legislation.

    Cabinet was stuck. The market wanted 3G; the industry wanted a level playing field and proper industry structure. Should the former wait again for the latter? In early October the Cabinet made a decision to re-engage the SOEs by enabling TOT in particular to use the spectrum held by the previous CAT-TOT joint venture (now TOT owned) ‘Thai Mobile’. This would be done via five MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) arrangements, to provide 3G mobile service. (The spectrum was existing, already issued and did not require new issuance). The MVNOs were new entrants and did not have existing 2G services, so they would have to rely on some kind of national roaming deal. Would AIS (the TOT concessionaire) oblige? How was this SOE/MVNO arrangement a one for all existing mobile operators given their large investment in their mobile businesses and the reasonable expectation that they could move to newer technology?

    /cont........

    [Quoting from BRT articles limited at their specific request - click link above for full article]

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    Bangkok Post : Court agrees to study True 3G contract

    Court agrees to study True 3G contract

    The Central Administrative Court has accepted for further deliberation Total Access Communication's complaint that CAT Telecom's Jan14 board resolution granting 3G contracts to rival telecom giant True Corp was illegitimate and had caused it damage.

    But the court rejected DTAC's request for an injunction to temporarily suspend the contentious deal between CAT Telecom and True.

    DTAC, the country's second-largest mobile phone service provider, on April25 filed the petition with the court, asking it to order CAT to refrain from executing its obligations under six agreements related to 3G high-speed packet access (HSPA) mobile expansion until the transaction details had been reviewed by relevant authorities.

    DTAC alleged that CAT failed to perform its duties when entering into the contract with True and asked the court to issue an injunction to suspend the deal.

    The court yesterday said it had no authority to intervene in the signed agreement between CAT and True and could not order the injunction.

    "However, if the plaintiff [DTAC] believes that the contract has caused it damage, it can file a civil case to claim compensation within the statute of limitations for the case," the court stated.

    The ruling paves the way for the six contracts between True and CAT to move forward without disruption.

    Jon Eddy Abdullah, chief executive officer of DTAC, declined to comment yesterday and said the company would issue a statement today on what its next step would be.

    CAT president Jirayuth Roongsrithong said the state enterprise would continue conducting its business with True under the terms of the contracts."We plan to start our 3G HSPA service in the third quarter," he said.

    Athueck Asvanont, vice-chairman of True, said the court's decision not to impose the injunction would allow the company to proceed with its 3G service for the benefit of its customers.

    Somkiat Tangkitvanich, vice-chairman of the Thailand Development Research Institute, earlier said that if the contracts were allowed to stay in effect, they would adversely affect consumers and the industry. He said the deal clearly fell under Section 5 of the Joint Venture Act as it was a state enterprise investment project using spectrum considered as a natural resource or government asset.

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    From the blog world.....


    Thailand talks of revoking concessions | Telecom Asia





    Thailand talks of revoking concessions


    May 20, 2011


    As if things were not complicated enough in Thailand, with everyone suing everyone else in various courts, The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology has dropped a bombshell on the industry which could lead to renationalization of the entire mobile telco space.

    MICT Permanent Secretary Jirawan Boonperm held a press conference on the conclusion of talks between concession holders, state telcos CAT and TOT, and their concessionaires, AIS, DTAC, TrueMove and also little known DPC (now part of AIS) which collapsed after what she said were useless statements made by CAT.

    The negotiations were centred on changes made to the concessions approved by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s Cabinet. The Supreme Court has already found Thaksin guilty for policy changes that benefited the companies that was owned by his family (and cook and driver). Among these were changes to the telecom concessions AIS and others were operating under, chiefly a reduction in prepaid revenue share from the 25% down to 20% and also, as highlighted by MICT, extensions of the concession periods.

    The MICT Permanent Secretary said that she would forward her findings to the Cabinet. If the cabinet agrees with the MICT that the Public Private Joint Investment Act has been violated, the Cabinet can either revoke the amendments or revoke the concessions entirely.

    However, both termination and cancellation of amendments will result in the same thing. For instance, DTAC had its concession extended to 2018. Without the amendments, it would have expired last year.

    MICT has instructed TOT and CAT to come up with contingency plans to take on the subscribers to ensured continued service if such a move does happen in what would be one of the biggest telecom renationalizations to hit the industry in modern times.

    Of course, there is a lot of room for appeal and further legal battles before renationalization actually happens, and few, apart from some die-hard bureaucrats, believe it would get that far.

    CAT for its part insisted in this round of talks that there was no monetary damages stemming from the concession amendments, contradicting earlier reports from its own internal committees.

    TOT has summarised damages from the concession amendments at 88.36 billion baht ($2.91 billion) that it believes AIS should pay up.

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    Bangkok Post : True challenges DTAC nationality

    Business > Telecommunications

    True challenges DTAC nationality

    Case underscores legal ambiguities True Move yesterday filed a criminal complaint against its bigger rival DTAC for having a foreign state enterprise as a major shareholder, which it claims is a violation of the Foreign Business Act.

    True representative Suphasorn Honchaiya presents documents outlining the company’s claims at the Crime Suppression Division yesterday. SURAPOL PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN

    The case, filed with the Crime Suppression Division, underlines the weakness of Thai law and ambiguity in rules and regulations, a main deterrent to a healthy telecom regulatory environment, said industry observers.

    They said the problem appears to have no solution and is not unique to the telecom sector. However, raising the issue as a criminal case could be seen as dampening the investment environment.

    True Move has no plan to file a complaint against Advanced Info Service even though the mobile market leader also has a complicated shareholding structure, said Athueck Asvanont, vice-chairman of parent True Corporation.

    Jon Eddy Abdullah, the chief executive of DTAC, shrugged off the move and said that should there be any change in regulations, DTAC was willing to comply.

    Telenor Group of Norway, the major shareholder of DTAC, insisted that its ownership was in compliance with Thai laws and regulations. Telenor is 55% owned by the government of Norway.

    "DTAC is a SET-listed company, the ownership structure is publicly available and registered with the Ministry of Commerce," Telenor said in a statement yesterday.

    True Move has urged the Crime Suppression Division to launch a new investigation into DTAC's nationality based on a report by the Telecommunications Committee of the House of Representatives published on April 21, according to Suphasorn Honchaiya, a representative of True Move who filed the complaint.

    The report indicated that DTAC was a foreign entity by law since its shareholding structure comprises only 28.65% Thai ownership while the remaining 71.35% is held by foreigners or nominees.

    The report also said the foreign shareholding of DTAC as of May 20 had risen slightly to 71.98%.

    Moreover, Ms Suphasorn said that Telenor had reported to the stock exchanges in Norway and Singapore that it owned approximately 66.5% in the Thai operating unit.

    "This is clearly against Section 4 of the Foreign Business Act, which expressly limits the ceiling of foreign shareholding to 49% for a Thai telecom business in consideration of national security and the use of airwaves, which are considered valuable and limited national assets," she said.

    However, Telenor said the report cited by True was still a draft that needed further debate and approval by Parliament and other parties involved.

    According to DTAC's shareholding breakdown filed with the Stock Exchange of Thailand on May 13, Telenor Asia, a subsidiary of Telenor, owns 41.04%, followed by Thai Telco Holdings, a 49%-owned affiliate of Telenor Asia, with 15.03%.

    Telenor reiterated in its statement that it was fully committed to the future development of the Thai industry.

    "The group is supporting DTAC in its ambition to roll out 3G service across Thailand for the benefit of the Thai telecom industry and consumers," it said.

    "As a global mobile operator with operations in 11 markets, Telenor is committed to high corporate governance standards, and always complies with local rules and regulations in every market where it is present."

    Ms Suphasorn said True welcomed foreign investment. But it must be genuine and transparent in terms of information disclosure.

    "It is therefore necessary for DTAC to come out and openly declare its ownership structure, instead of spreading its shares among nominee individuals and companies to conceal its real nationality," she said, adding that this had misled the public into believing that DTAC is a Thai company.

    Mr Athueck said the petition was filed after the company's legal teams unanimously agreed that DTAC had violated the law.

    He rebutted the claim that the petition represented retaliation against DTAC for filing a case with the Central Administrative Court seeking to scrap the contentious deal between CAT Telecom and True Corporation.

    Despite all the legal tussles, DTAC shares have gained 41% this year against a 1% decline in the SET index. They closed yesterday at 60.25 baht, up 1.50 baht, in trade worth 680.14 million baht.


    Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana
    Position: Business Reporter

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    ^ Doing business Thai-style - why bother to compete by providing a better or cheaper product or service when you can sue the foreign devils instead?

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    Bangkok Post : DBD: Dtac registered Thai firm

    Breakingnews >

    Total Access Communication (Dtac) is a Thai company, director-general of the Department of Business Development (DBD) Banyong Limprayoonwong said on Thursday.

    Citing the company’s registration and shareholding structure documents, Mr Banyong said Thais hold 51% of Dtac and the remaining 49% is foreign owned.

    The director-general said that True Move will this afternoon hand over to his department the documents it claimed to have derived from an in-depth check which concluded that 71.35% of Dtac shares are held by foreigners and only 28.65% by Thais.

    Mr Banyong said the documents would be examined. If it were found that Dtac really has foreign majority shareholders it would be reclassified as a foreign firm.

    If it is so, there would be tracing to see whether Dtac had applied to the DBD for permission to run a telecommunication business . Telecommunication is included in the No 3 list attached to the Foreign Business Act and a foreign firm is required to seek permission from the department prior to starting a business, he added.

    If Dtac had failed to do so, the penalty would be a fine of between 100,000 baht and one million baht and/or a jail term of no more than three years.

    True Move on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Crime Suppression Division against its bigger rival Dtac, alleging it had a foreign majority shareholder in breach of the law.

    The company asked the Crime Suppression Division to launch a new investigation into DTAC's state ownership based on evidence published by Telecommunications Committee of the House of Representatives on April 21.

    The report indicated that DTAC is a foreign entity by law since its shareholding structure comprises only 28.65% Thai ownership with the remaining 71.35% owned by foreigners.

  12. #12
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    Some related info twitted earlier:

    MICT to prosecute those involved with telecom concession amendments

    By Don Sambandaraksa
    – May 2, 2011Posted in: Public Policy, Telecommunications


    ICT Minister Chuti Krairiksh is reported to ask the final meeting of the Cabinet to go ahead with an investigation and prosecution of those involved in regards to the telecoms concession amendments.

    Quoting an unnamed source within the ICT Ministry, Nation’s Thai language sister publication Krungthep Turakij (Bangkok Biz News) today ran a story reporting that the investigation will focus on the changes to the telecoms concessions, in particular the introduction of excise tax, and changes to the satellite concession that benefitted Shin Corp.
    The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) will be bought in to look at the financial aspects of the deals.
    On 25 February this year, the ICT Minister set up a committee headed by Counter Corruption Commissioner Ampol Wongsiri to investigate six matters.
    1. Amendments made to six different contracts relating to AIS and ThaiCom, namely the decision that excise tax could be deducted from revenue used to calculate revenue share.
    2. The reduction of pre-paid revenue share down to 20 percent.
    3. Amendments that allowed roaming profit (as opposed to revenue) to be used to calculate revenue share.
    4. Investment promotion privileges given to Shin Satellite, which is by contract supposed to be focused on domestic satellite services.
    5. Reduction of Shin Corporation’s stake in ThaiCom down to 40 percent while it was supposed to be maintained above 51 percent.
    6. Approval of the insurance payout directly to Shinsat for the failure of ThaiCom 3 to the tune of 6,700 million US Dollars.
    The committee has concluded that a large number of civil servants within the MICT and its state enterprises acted to benefit Shin Corp. It also noted that many of those involved have since retired or resigned from their posts.
    Damage from the decisions is expected to be in the tens of billions of Baht.
    The report has categorised those to be investigated into six groups.
    1. Politicians – Thaksin Shinawatra Prime Minister, Somkit Jatusripitak Finance Minister, Wan Muhamad Nor Matha Transport and Communications Minister (the precursor to MICT), Surapong Suebwonglee ICT Minister.
    2. Civil servants, namely Satit Limpongpan, Director General of the Excise Department who put forward the amendments to the excise tax; Srisuk Chantarangsuk, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Communications; Areepong Puchaum, Director General of the State Enterprise Policy Office; Sirinuch Pisonyabutr, Deputy Director General of the Excise Department; Dhipavadee Meksawan, Permanent Secretary of MICT and Kraisorn Pornsutee, Permanent Secretary of MICT.
    3. Key TOT and CAT officials.
    4. Key TOT and CAT board members.
    5. AIS and Shinsat (the companies).
    6. Key AIS and Shinsat executives by name
    May the bridges I burn light my way

  13. #13
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    Dtac vs CAT (and True), blow by blow

    By Don Sambandaraksa
    – May 11, 2011Posted in: Public Policy, Telecommunications

    A number of Thai newspapers have today been reporting the first blows of the lawsuit Dtac has launched against CAT Telecom, blow by blow.
    Earlier Total Access Communication (Dtac) filed a lawsuit in the administrative court against its concession holder CAT Telecom asking for a temporary injunction to the CAT- 3G TrueMove deal claiming that it broke both the Frequency Allocation Act and the Public Private Joint Investment Act.
    My own thoughts after reading this? It’s a mess, and it is clear that Cat and True’s key strategy in arguing is by holding consumers hostage rather than address the points which Dtac actually sued CAT over. But judge for yourself.

    Krungthep Turakit (Bangkok Biz News) ran a report today that can be loosely translated as follows.
    Dtac’s team consisted of Mrs Veranuch Kamonyabutr, Senior Director for legal affairs and a legal team. CAT was represented by CAT CEO Jirayut Rungsrithong and Hansa Chewapreuck, vice-president for legal affairs.
    True also attended with True vice-chairman Athueck Asavanont attending personally.
    The session started off with the judge asking CAT why the deal was not processed in accordance with the Public Private Joint Investment Act.
    Hansa replied that it [the MVNO contract with RealMove, a new 3G arm of TrueMove] was just a marketing contract while the contract with BFKT (now taken over by TrueMove) was just an equipment leasing contract.
    He said that while the Council of State may have ruled that the Hutch contract does fall under the Public Private Joint Investment Act article 13, CAT has taken over ownership of Hutch, therefore the committee under the PPJV act no longer is relevant.
    (No, that does not make much sense to me either, but I’m just translating.)
    The court asked CAT why it should not grant an injunction. CAT gave six reasons.
    1. It would damage CAT and CAT’s contractor (True, via BFKT) which has already signed purchase orders for equipment and has taken out loans.
    2. CAT will not be able to provide telecommunication services which will affect income by over 10 billion Baht.
    3. CAT will not be able to offer advanced services which will affect the general public.
    4. CAT will be forced to cease its universal service obligations.
    5. CAT will not be able to run a 3G network even though it legally has spectrum before the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) was established.
    6. Thai people will not have 3G and the 1.2 million Hutch subscribers will be cut off.
    Dtac responded by saying that 1. The contract between CAT and True was illegal. 2. The injunction would not inconvenience Hutch Subscribers and would actually help them as the old Hutch contract had five years to run, but the CAT-True deal would see the Hutch network shut down in two years. 3. CAT already has a 3G network on CDMA EV-DO. 4. State enterprises much be economically viable in themselves, not depend on concession revenue share to survive, hence the 10 billion Baht deficit should not be considered. 5. An injunction would not affect CAT as it has not invested in anything yet.
    Dtac said that the court should focus on whether the agreement was legal or not rather than anything else.
    Jirayut responded by saying that CAT’s CDMA operations were limited and not as popular as GSM and that the company lacked foreign funds.
    He asked Dtac that if they were so opposed to CDMA, why did they ask to go commercial on HSPA themselves? (Either the reporter got their notes mixed up here or Jirayut has no idea what he’s talking about.)
    He also refuted Dtac’s claim that the 1.2 million Hutch subscribers would not be affected as the previous contract with Hutch was terminated on 27 January when the contract between CAT and True was signed.
    Tach Busadeekarn, Director for legal affairs at True, asked to give evidence. Dtac objected saying that True was not named in the lawsuit. True countered that it was a witness authorised by CAT and then asked all the public to leave the room as it would be confidential information.
    The judge allowed True to take the stand but also said the public and reporters could stay.
    Tach said that True would be affected by the injunction as it had already borrowed 6,300 million Baht in a short-term loan from SCB at an interest rate of 50 million Baht a month. True would have to return 6,600 million Baht if the injunction were granted.
    He also said that a further loan of 49 billion Baht from a consortium of banks (SCB, KTB, BAY, Tisco, GSB, Thanachart and ExIm Bank) which was due to be signed off soon.
    True has already spent 3,300 million Baht on upgrading existing infrastructure to make it 3G (again, a bit unclear if it’s EV-DO or HSPA) and has invested 215 million Baht in a new billing system.
    True claimed that an injunction order would be illegal and break article 20 of the Frequency Allocation Act that states that services must be stable and must not stop in a way that will affect the public.
    Tach said an injunction would immediately cost CAT between 2-3 billion Baht, Hutch 158 million, BFKT 923 million and mean that the 1.2 million CDMA users can no longer use their phones to call any of the other 75 million phones in the country.
    Dtac objected saying that True had no right to answer these questions for CAT and questioned how True had such detailed information on what should be a CAT internal matter. Dtac questioned why CAT had not raised these points itself.
    Dtac suggested that the reason was because True was the one calling the shots and who drafted the contracts for CAT and is deeply involved at all levels, doing everything for CAT.
    Dtac again objected at the testimony from True, saying that Dtac had not sued True and that business profit and loss has nothing to do with the matters of law on which Dtac is suing CAT.

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    Bangkok Post : True presses for scrapping of DTAC licenceTrue Move opened another front yesterday in its increasingly bitter feud with rival DTAC, asking the country's telecom regulator to revoke the latter's right to operate a mobile business in Thailand.

    The third-ranked mobile operator wants the acting National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to lift the licence of second-ranked DTAC on grounds that it is majority owned by foreigners, specifically the Norwegian state telecom enterprise Telenor and its allies.

    However, the NBTC said there was little it could do as DTAC was not its direct licensee. It said it needed to rely on the Foreign Business Act (FBA), which is overseen by the Commerce Ministry.

    CAT Telecom holds the DTAC concession, which is due to expire in 2018.

    Suphasorn Honchaiya, True's representative, said DTAC clearly violated Section 8 of the Telecom Business Act 2001, which expressly states that only Thai companies can operate telecom businesses. It sets a maximum foreign shareholding in such businesses at 49%. The company is also in breach of Section 84 of the 2007 Constitution, she added.

    DTAC executives have denied the claims by True and say the company was in compliance with all local laws.

    True Move is scheduled to give a statement to police at the Crime Suppression Division this week.

    True Move on June 14 filed a criminal complaint alleging that DTAC had a foreign state enterprise as a major shareholder, based on a report that 71.35% of DTAC's shares were held by foreigners or their nominees.

    The Department of Business Development at the Commerce Ministry has said that DTAC was still in compliance with the law, based on its initial examination. However, the Commerce Ministry this week set up a new panel to review DTAC's shareholding structure. The panel is scheduled to report its findings within the next 10 days.

    Thakorn Tantasit, the secretary of the acting NBTC, said it was too early to comment on DTAC's shareholding and that the regulator needed to discuss the issue with the Commerce Ministry.

    Mr Thakorn said the issue would be tabled for discussion at an NBTC board meeting tomorrow for acknowledgement. But he admitted that any decision could take time as it was a delicate issue.

    TRUE shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 3.88 baht, down six satang, in trade worth 281.4 million baht. DTAC shares were unchanged at 56.25 baht, in trade worth 464.3 million baht.


    Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana
    Position: Business Reporter

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    Bangkok Post : DTAC row heats up

    DTAC row heats up

    Claims of ministry conflict downplayed
    Political lobbying has been heavy in the closely watched investigation of the nationality of the No.2 mobile operator Total Access Communication (DTAC).

    Banyong Limprayoonwong, director-general of the Business Development Department, said he and other technocrats were "uncomfortable" with the political manoeuvring surrounding the investigation.

    He claimed yesterday that Sanya Sathirabutr, a political adviser to acting Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot, had made several direct attempts to influence the investigation.

    Mr Alongkorn was unavailable for comment yesterday.

    Speaking at a briefing, Mr Banyong denied reports of two separate committees responsible for the DTAC investigation - one chaired by Mr Sanya and the other by himself.

    He said only one committee, which he chairs, existed and it was set up by Yanyong Phuangrach, the permanent secretary of the Commerce Ministry.

    Mr Banyong said he believed the misleading reports of a conflict within the Commerce Ministry stemmed from Mr Sanya earlier lobbying to be named as the committee chairman.

    He told the briefing that he disagreed with such a move, as Mr Sanya was a political appointee, while the investigation should be run by ministry officials and technocrats from related agencies.

    Mr Banyong claimed Mr Sanya later asked that a different adviser to Mr Alongkorn be appointed to the committee.

    Mr Sanya also allegedly told Mr Banyong the Commerce Ministry investigation was superfluous, as a separate panel scrutinising the issue on behalf of the House telecommunications committee already concluded DTAC is in violation of the Foreign Business Act (FBA) through the use of nominees.

    Mr Banyong said he informed Mr Sanya that the House investigation was not binding, as the Business Development Department, which is responsible for corporate registrations, did not play a role.

    "All of this has made both myself and other officials quite uncomfortable. We've reported what's been going on to the permanent secretary [Mr Yanyong]," he said.

    Mr Banyong said the permanent secretary had also informed acting Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai and Mr Alongkorn about the creation of the ministry panel and that neither of them had voiced any complaint.

    The panel expects to submit its report to Mrs Porntiva next Monday.

    True Move, Thailand's third-largest mobile operator, earlier this month filed a criminal complaint accusing DTAC of being in violation of the FBA, which restricts foreign ownership to 49%.

    The Stock Exchange of Thailand reported that as of May 13, Telenor Asia, a unit of Norway's Telenor, held a 41.04% stake in DTAC.

    Thai Telco Holdings was the second-largest shareholder at 15.03%, followed by Thai NVDR at 12.55%.

    But True Move alleges foreign shareholding in DTAC actually totals 71.35% if nominees are counted.

    Telenor's own interim first-quarter financial statement pegged the group's "economic stake" in DTAC at 65.5% as of March 31.

    If DTAC is found to have violated the FBA, the company could be forced to change its shareholding structure to bring foreign holdings below the 49% threshold.

    A similar investigation by the Commerce Ministry into nominee structures that was launched during the Surayud Chulanont administration proved highly disruptive to foreign investment sentiment.

    Although illegal, nominee structures have long been used as mechanisms for foreign multinational companies operating locally.

    Jon Eddy Abdullah, DTAC's chief executive, said his company stood ready to comply with local laws and regulations based on any rulings.


    Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
    Position: Business Reporter

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    Bangkok Post : Finger-pointing in DTAC case continues

    Finger-pointing in DTAC case continues
    The closely watched investigation into the nationality of second-ranked mobile operator DTAC is turning into an intensifying conflict between technocrats and politicians.

    Sanya Sathirabutr, a political adviser to acting Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot, yesterday dismissed a claim that he had tried to intervene in the investigation process in favour of any particular private company.

    He also said that Banyong Limprayoonwong, director-general of the ministry's Business Development Department, had failed to do his duty.Mr Banyong on Monday claimed that Mr Sanya had made direct attempts to influence the investigation. He said he and other technocrats were uncomfortable with the political manoeuvring.

    True Move, the country's third-largest mobile operator, earlier this month filed a criminal complaint accusing DTAC of being in violation of the Foreign Business Act (FBA), which caps foreign ownership in telecom companies at 49%.

    SET data showed that as of May 13, Telenor Asia, a unit of Norway's Telenor, held a 41.04% stake in DTAC.

    But True Move alleges the foreign shareholding in DTAC actually totals 71.35% if nominees are counted.

    Mr Sanya said he proposed that the committee responsible for the DTAC investigation, chaired by Mr Banyong, use the conclusions of a panel scrutinising the DTAC issue on behalf of the House Telecommunications Committee as the basis for further investigation.

    The panel concluded DTAC breached the FBA through the use of nominees.

    "We never intended to lobby the investigation. What Mr Banyong claimed is false," he told the Bangkok Post.

    Mr Sanya is scheduled to return from China tomorrow. "I have all the evidence on hand to explain at a press conference."

    He said he had been assigned by Mr Alongkorn to head the committee instead of Mr Banyong in order to push the investigation forward.

    "Under Section 30 of FBA, we are allowed to seek information from both DTAC and True Move for investigation," he said.

    "As a political adviser, I see no reason why I should not be appointed as a political appointee for the committee's head for double check."

    Mr Sanya also claimed that he in fact had been appointed by Mr Alongkorn to head the committee before Mr Banyong proposed himself to the ministry's permanent secretary Yanyong Phuangrach.

    Mr Yanyong, meanwhile, insisted the ministry made the right decision, saying the investigation should be run by permanent public servants.


    Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana and Phusadee Arunmas

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    Bangkok Post : Commerce agency defies Alongkorn's ultimatum

    TELECOMMUNICATIONS
    Commerce agency defies Alongkorn's ultimatum Civil servants at the Commerce Ministry are adamant about refusing to take legal action against DTAC as their acting deputy minister has demanded, reiterating more evidence is necessary before deciding on the mobile operator's nationality.

    Banyong Limprayoonwong (right), director-general of the Business Development Department, explains why he is turning the DTAC nationality case over to police rather than filing a suit.

    The refusal of the ministry's Business Development Department to act defies a demand by acting deputy commerce minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot to take legal action against DTAC for allegedly using Thai nominees to hold shares on behalf of foreigners.

    The allegation was made by the third-ranked mobile operator True Move, which filed a complaint with the police last month.

    Mr Alongkorn appears determined to sort out the case before he leaves office. Earlier he threatened a misconduct investigation against Banyong Limprayoonwong, director-general of the Business Development Department, if he failed to comply with his order.

    Mr Banyong insisted yesterday that the investigative committee, which he chaired, remained resolute in its initial agreement to pass the DTAC case to the police for further scrutiny to determine if any laws had been broken.

    "Despite our preliminary finding that seven Thai nominees held shares on behalf of foreigners in DTAC, there was not enough evidence to make a clear legal conclusion," he said. "Mr Alongkorn has no authority to order a petition against the mobile operator."

    The Foreign Business Act states that permanent civil servants and officials can make an independent inquiry into foreign shareholding.

    "We have no double standard with the DTAC case. We just want to make sure correct practices and fair play are used, rather than worry about my boss's feelings," he said.

    Mr Banyong said he sent the case to the Royal Thai Police last Tuesday. On Thursday, the department submitted a letter to Mr Alongkorn and acting commerce minister Porntiva Nakasai explaining why it could not comply with the order.

    Mr Banyong said the police investigation would not take long. If a law has been broken, a case would proceed through three levels of courts.

    The police need to scrutinise two issues: the sources of overseas funding for the alleged nominee companies, and the high amount of call loans at zero interest with no specified maturity period.

    Mr Alongkorn said yesterday he had not read Mr Banyong's letter.


    Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
    Position: Business Reporter

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    ^
    Optimist's view


    A rare illustration that there at least some Thai civil servants who aren't automatons just doing the agenda-driven bidding of their current political masters - common sense rules.


    Pessimist's view


    Alongkorn is just an acting deputy minister - the lowest form of ministerial life..... Oh, and he'll be gone next month. Like any grown-up Thai bureaucrat, eyes are already on who's due to be the new boss and what they will want - self-preservation rules.


    Take your pick.

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    Bangkok Post : DSI probes selections for broadcasting regulator

    DSI probes selections for broadcasting regulator

    The Department of Special Investigation is probing claims that candidates for the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission were selected illegitimately.

    DSI director-general Tharit Pengdit said yesterday his department was looking into the complaints and would report results to the Senate, which has to vet and select the NBTC members, in 1-2 weeks.

    Witnesses' accounts pointed to wrongdoing, he said.

    The complaints include allegations that some selection panel members and candidates they selected were related.

    Some members representing people's groups were also thought to have come from dubious organisations.

    Mr Tharit said complaints about possible conflicts of interest had also arisen. Some NBTC candidates were accused of being involved in the drafting of a law governing allocation of radio frequencies.

    Other candidates were accused of applying for candidacy through more than one channel, to increase their chances of being selected.

    Some candidates were also directors of state enterprises, which contravenes selection rules, while others have been accused of holding degrees in fields unrelated to the posts they were seeking.

    Some ballots cast by committee members may also have been destroyed, he said. The Senate will select the 11 members of the NBTC.

    If collusion existed in the selection process, it would be damaging to the public interest.

    The NBTC will serve as a regulatory body for the country's broadcasting and telecommunications industry.

    Mr Tharit said the DSI would propose selection cases for such agencies be handled as special cases under its jurisdiction.

    Forty-four applicants were selected as candidates.

    Somchai Sawaengkan, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, said the Senate would convene on Monday and set up a 25-member committee to check the profiles of the 44 candidates chosen.

    He expects the Senate to vote for the 11 members of the NBTC on Sept 5.

    The deadline for the Senate to select the 11 NBTC members is Sept 11.

    If the Senate fails to meet the deadline, the authority to choose NBTC members will shift to the prime minister and the cabinet.

  20. #20
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    DTAC to go ahead wIth 3G launch thIs week

    By Usanee Mongkolporn,
    Sirivish Toomgum
    The Nation
    Published on August 15, 2011



    Total Access Communication (DTAC) will press ahead with the launch of its third-generation wireless broadband service in Bangkok this week as planned, despite a possible legal threat from its concession owner CAT Telecom.

    DTAC has about a million subscribers with 3G-850-megahertz mobile phones, of whom about 400,000 are in Bangkok. It believes it has to debut the service now or it might lose premium subscribers to competitors Real Move and Advanced Info Service, which launched full 3G services last month.

    CAT has warned DTAC that it should wait for a ruling by the Office of the Attorney-General on whether the launch of a commercial 3G service is appropriate under its CAT concession. The office recently warned DTAC that launching the service before its ruling could put the telecom at risk of legal action.

    DTAC believes it can launch the service under a permit it secured from
    the National Telecommunica-tions Commission to install and use a 3G network. It argues that this is not in fact the launch of |a new commercial service but |simply an upgrade of network data-transmission speeds for its customers.

    A telecom-industry source said CAT had asked DTAC to withdraw its complaint at the Central Administrative Court against the state agency and its board in connection with the CAT-True Group deals on collaboration in 3G business first, and then CAT would urge the Office of the Attorney-General to expedite its ruling.

    The source added that DTAC might want to wait to see how the new minister of information and communications technology handles the CAT-True deals. If the minister declines to look into the matter, DTAC might consider withdrawing its court complaint.

    DTAC has said many times that its complaint against the deals and its 3G service launch are two separate issues.

    CAT and True's subsidiaries Real Move and Real Future signed deals in January to develop jointly a nationwide 3G-850MHz service. In April, DTAC filed the court complaint against the legitimacy of the deals and against the CAT board for allowing the state agency to sign them with True group.

    DTAC had its staff try the new 3G service last month. It will install 2,000 3G base stations by next year to cover 40 provinces, of which 400 are already available in Bangkok.


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    Thai-ASEAN News Network



    Stop Disruption to NBTC Establishment

    UPDATE : 22 August 2011

    Could there be some kind of jinx at work so as the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has not yet been officially established? First, a petition had been filed with the Administrative Court to disrupt the selection process. Now, similar attempts are still being made against the fact that a judicial complaint cannot hinder the selection process that is currently in the final stage.

    Actually, the problem hasn't been caused by any higher powers. It is simply about a certain group of people who are afraid that others are getting on their turf and who wants to keep all the wealth generated from communication frequencies to themselves.


    The filing of lawsuits by disqualified candidates, Department of Special Investigation Director-General Tharit Pengdit's negative reaction towards those involved the selection process as if they were criminals, and attempts to delay the selection process until it changes hand to the Cabinet, are all indicative of less than honest motives behind them.

    A network of media organizations and ten civic organizations led by the National Press Council of Thailand has recently issued a statement clarifying how important a legitimate selection of NBTC commissioners is.

    One section of the statement wrote that there were attempts to forestall the selection of NBTC commissioners by either lawful or unlawful means, such as the filing of complaints from an individual who works for a political party, the use of an investigative tool to intimidate concerned individuals and media, release of advertisements hinting at the illegitimate status of the NBTC.

    Regardless of the Central Administrative Court's decision in the hearing of the case in which NBTC candidate Suranant Wongwittayakamjorn sued the selection committee and its chairman Jarurong Panyadilok, the selection has been lawfully carried out and must be continued until it is complete.

    Editorial, Kom Chad Luek, Page 4, August 22nd, 2011
    Translated and rewritten by Wacharapol Isaranont

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    Bangkok Post : NBTC shakes off birth pains

    NBTC shakes off birth pains

    SPECIAL REPORT: After a 14 year wait, the broadcast and telecoms regulator will be unveiled today

    Fourteen years in the making, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission will be unveiled today when the Senate elects its 11 members.


    Suthipol and Supinya: Among the finalists

    The commission is beginning its first chapter but the path ahead appears to be strewn with obstacles.

    Removing broadcast frequencies long held by the state and businesses for redistribution could prove particularly daunting.

    The NBTC is also closely bound by the constitution. If the powers-that-be feel their interests are threatened by the commission, it could work to sink it by means of a charter amendment.

    However, the NBTC's inception today is historic as it culminates in years of efforts under successive governments to set up a broadcast and telecommunication regulator.

    The establishment of the commission comes 14 years late. It should have been up and running with the promulgation of the 1997 constitution.

    Getting the commission off the ground has been a frustrating process involving fierce debates and interference from businesses and political elements.

    Originally, there were to be separate agencies; the National Broadcasting Commission and the National Telecommunication Commission.

    Only the NTC was established, while the NBC was never formed as selection of commissioners ended in a stalemate.

    The current constitution combines the NBC and the NTC together to create the NBTC, comprising 11 commissioners. Today each senator will choose 11 commissioners from among the 44 shortlisted finalists in eight categories.

    The Senate will vote for one commissioner from four finalists in the field of radio broadcasting; one commissioner from the four finalists from the field of television; two commissioners from eight finalists in the telecom sector; two commissioners from eight finalists who are legal experts; two commissioners from eight finalists in economics; one commissioner from four finalists in rights and freedom promotion and consumer protection; one commissioner from four finalists in consumer protection advocacy in the telecommunications industry; and one commissioner from four finalists in the field of education, culture and social development.

    Other strong finalists include Election Commission secretary-general Suthipol Thaweechaiygarn, Campaign for Popular Media Reform vice-chairwoman Supinya Klangnarong, former Mass Communication Organisation of Thailand director Wasant Paileeklee and former senator and health activist Jon Ungpakorn. The NBTC members have a six-year, non-renewable term.

    A Senate source said government politicians were lobbying to senators to pick people who are friendly to their broadcast and telecom businesses.

    ACM Thares Punsri, former deputy defence permanent secretary, is competing with Lucksamee Srisompet, another contender, for a seat in the radio broadcast segment.

    The source said if ACM Thares makes the cut, he will stand a good chance of being chosen the NBTC chairman.

    He does not come under the influence of the government while Ms Lucksamee, the vice-president of Chiang Mai's Chamber of Commerce, receives solid support from many senators, according to the source.

    Once the 11 commissioners are elected, they must convene a meeting in 15 days to select a chairman and two deputies from among themselves.

    The NBTC's main task is to draft a master plan on broadcast frequency management, which will be put up for referendum before being implemented.

    The plan governs a redistribution of broadcast and telecommunication frequencies, with the exception of those bound by concessions not yet expired or those specified by the constitution as off-limits to the NBTC.

    Also, where concessions expire, at least 20% of frequencies that become available must be allocated to the people. The commission will also issue radio, television and telecom licences as well as the licence for the 3G service.

    Overall, the NBTC's job is to develop the broadcast and telecom industries with the intention to make the frequencies a national asset to be allocated for public benefits.

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    Bangkok Post : Senate finally elects NBTC members

    Senate finally elects NBTC members

    The Senate elected the 11 members of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) on Monday, ending a 14-year saga of legislative indifference and political and business interference.
    The Senate, by secret ballot, chose the following 11 commissioners from the list of 44 finalists:


    The Senate finally elects the 11 members of the long-delayed National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission - ending a 14-year saga. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

    1. Col Natee Sukolrat, from the telecom sector

    2. Election Commission secretary-general Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn, from the legal sector

    3. Pol Col Taweesak Ngamsanga, from the legal sector

    4. Col Settapong Malisuwan, from the telecom sector

    5. ACM Thares Punsri, from the field of television

    6. Peerapong Manakit, from the field of television

    7. Prasert Silpipat, in economics

    8. Thawatchai Jittrapanun, in economics

    9. Campaign for Popular Media Reform vice chairwoman Supinya Klanarong (representing the field of rights and freedom promotion and consumer protection)

    10. Prawit Leesatapornwongs (consumer protection advocacy in the telecommunications industry)

    11. Col Sukit Khamasunthorn (education, culture and social development).

    The NBTC members have a six-year, non-renewable term. They will later elect a commission chairman and two deputy chairmen.

    The final line up will then be submitted to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who will send it for formal royal endorsement.

    As the Senate meeting began today, a request to delay the selection of the NBTC members was rejected.

    Si Sa Ket senator Chittipot Wiriyarot told the Senate meeting this morning that the NBTC's selection process was flawed with alleged irregularities.

    He asked the Senate to investigate them before voting on the membership of the new broadcasting regulator.

    Senate Speaker Theeradej Meepian rejected Mr Chittipot’s request, saying that the period for considering complaints had already passed and the senators scheduled to consider the qualifications of 44 finalists before casting secret ballots today.

    The selection of NBTC to regulate and redistribute broadcasting and telecommunication frequencies has floundered from one setback to another in the 14 years since the new regulator was first mandated by the 1997 constitution, amid legislative lethargy, strong criticism of the selection process and alleged interference by businessmen and politicians.

    Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn, spokesman for the Senate panel checking the qualifications of the finalists, insisted most senators did not want to see any further delay because they had found no problems with the selection process.

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    Bangkok Post : NBTC selections fail to impress

    NBTC selections fail to impress

    Military, police ranks fill 6 of 11 positions
    The Senate came under fire yesterday after the line-up of the long-awaited National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission was unveiled.



    Senators met in the early hours of yesterday to choose the new panel by secret vote.

    Of the 11 proposed members of the broadcasting and telecom watchdog, five of them have a military title and another is a former police superintendent.

    Civil Media Development Institute chairwoman Uajit Wirotetrairat questioned the senators' rationale in their voting decisions.

    Many of the candidates did not meet the requirement that the commissioners must have relevant expertise and achievements in the sector, she said.

    She made an exception for commissioners-elect from the fields of non-governmental organisations, and legal experts.

    "The outcome seems to show that military and police ranks mattered when senators made decisions although they should have adhered to fairness, and experience.

    "In the past selection of the NTC [National Telecommunications Commission], the presence of those in uniforms was not so obvious.

    "This is like going back to the period before the establishment of TV Channel 5," Mrs Uajit said. She challenged the NBTC to prove it is really independent, transparent and fair.

    A senator who asked not to be named said former executives of the disbanded Thai Rak Thai Party, who were influential in the North and the Northeast, lobbied heavily for three commissioners-elect.



    "I am concerned that the Senate has so many people who did not make decisions based on the national interest.

    "They voted for three persons, whose stances and capabilities are doubtful, for important positions."

    ACM Thares Punsri, the winning candidate in the field of broadcasting, won the highest vote of 73.

    The former chief of military staff of the Royal Thai Air Force studied at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School in the same Class 6 as ACM Chalit Phukpasuk and ACM Chalee Ruangchan. ACM Thares is executive chairman of the Defence Technology Institute. ACM Chalit, a former air force chief, is now a member of the Privy Council and ACM Chalee is a senator.

    Lt Gen Peerapong Manakit of Nation University _ formerly Yonok University _ who was selected in the field of television affairs, won 62 votes. He is seen as close to Yaowapa Wongsawat, an elder sister of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

    Col Nathee Sukolrat won selection in the telecommunication business category with 112 votes.

    He is a former member of the NTC and a former acting president of TOT Plc.

    Another wining candidate in this category was Col Setthapong Malisuwan, who is now a military officer with the Defence Ministry's office of broadcasting, television and telecommunication affairs.

    Gen Sukij Kamasunthorn, who won the selection in the field of social development is said to have close connections with Advanced Info Service.

    Pol Col Thaweesak Ngamsanga, the winning candidate in the field of law, is said to have close ties with Phinij Jarusombat, a veteran politician who is a key figure of Chart Pattana Puea Pandin.

    Thailand Development Research Institute vice-president Somkiat Tangkitvanich said the line-up did not measure up.

    "The line-up is not quite beautiful. There are too many soldiers. I will wait and see how they work," he said.

    He urged the NBTC to quickly work out a master plan on the liberalisation of telecommunications and digital radio and television, as he thinks Thailand is way behind other countries in these fields.

    The 11 NBTC members were selected out of 44 shortlisted candidates by means of a secret vote that took place at 12.45am and took about three hours to finish.

    The vote began right after a closed-door meeting lasting about 45 minutes.

    A total of 147 out all 149 senators took part in the secret vote.

    Each of them were given eight ballots in different colours to cast their votes in eight categories.

    The commissioners comprise one from radio broadcasting, one from television broadcasting, two from the telecom sector, two from the legal field, two from economics, one from rights, freedom and consumer protection, one from consumer protection advocacy in the telecom industry, and one from social, culture and education development. The Senate speaker will send the list to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the premier will forward it to His Majesty the King for endorsement.

    The NBTC has a six-year tenure but the age for members is capped at 70.

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    Bangkok Post : New NBTC faces minefield of legal issues

    New NBTC faces minefield of legal issues

    The successful creation of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) is just the beginning of an ''eventual disaster'' with legal difficulties and disputes lying ahead, say telecom experts.

    The main threat is based on the fact that the commission combines the national broadcasting regulator and the national telecommunications regulator to create the NBTC, comprising 11 commissioners.

    By law, the commission's regulating structure was improper because it was totally separated, said Anuparb Thiralarp, a telecom academic.

    In the convergence era, he said an application could run through many devices on the same frequency.

    ''We might enjoy a honeymoon period in the first six months after the broadcast and telecommunications regulator was successfully established,'' Mr Anuparb said.

    ''After that, the industry will face with the realilty and probably a disaster,'' he predicted.

    He said there are three main tasks facing the NBTC.

    First is a management timetable for the national radio frequency, a model for managing all telecoms frequencies including radio and broadcasting in the future.

    Second is the reform of existing spectrum, particularly with regards to those of government agencies, the armed forces and state enterprises holding excessive slots of frequencies.

    Third is the auctioning of the much-awaited 3G licences on the 2100-megahertz frequency.

    Mr Anuparb said the NBTC should work closely with the government to amend the details of the NBTC Act, notably its impractical vertical management structure, which required the establishment of separate subcommittees for telecom and broadcasting.

    He said the commission should apply a horizontal structure to specially manage and regulate network and spectrum issues; licensees should instead be allowed to take responsibility for services and applications by themselves because of convergence ties.

    Wichian Mektrakarn, the chief executive of Advanced Info Service, said private mobile operators are pinning their hopes on a 3G licence auction of the international-standard 2.1-gigahertz spectrum along with promotion of a level playing field for all operators in the Thai telecom industry.

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