The resurgence of Thailand's state telcos and old elite

22 Jul 2014

It was Morpheus who said in The Matrix, “Where others see coincidence, I see consequence.” The same can be said of recent moves by Thailand’s telecoms regulator, the two state owned telcos and the [ruling military junta] nice people in green uniforms who run the country* which together point only to one goal: a concerted effort to turn back the deregulation clock and a resurgence of the role of the state and the old elite.

The good men in charge of the country ordered the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission to come up with a reform plan for the country's telecommunications sector.

First were the two state enterprises. CAT Telecom asked for a 15-year license for 25 MHz on the 1800-MHz band that currently lies unused to be transferred to it along with the 4 million TrueMove 2G customers that still have not ported out to TrueMove H 3G, despite a year’s extension to what was supposed to be a non-extendable concession.

Getting 25 MHz without having to pay for it sounds quite a lot until one reads TOT Corp's proposal to the junta ruling council. TOT asked for the 900-MHz and the 2.3-GHz bands indefinitely, or for at least 15 years, as well as concession revenue from what is left of AIS’ concession to be returned to it rather than being sent to the Ministry of Finance.

Well, anyone can make a wish and there is no harm in asking.

The biggest problem with such requests is that Thailand's frequency allocation act stipulates that spectrum allocation must be via competitive auction. That means no beauty contests, no allocation to favorite state agencies on a whim.

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