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Don Sambandaraksa

June 19, 2015

Sometimes as a reporter I start to believe the press releases and PR propaganda that Thailand’s two state telcos are in fact proper, functioning telcos and not bureaucratic clowns out of an eighties episode of Yes, Minister. Reflecting on my own experience with TOT living in the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of Bangkok makes much of the news almost comical.

For the past 16 years or so I have been living in the wilderness of Rangsit, about 40km from central Bangkok a bit beyond the old airport. My neighbours are still rice farmers even to this day. It is actually not that far... MORE

June 15, 2015

Will the 4G auction happen in Thailand this year? To hazard a guess, yes, but only after the trolls have been paid off first and that payoff will happen because the junta cannot afford to lose face after a dismal economic performance since coming to power.

The 4G auction refarming 900, 1800 and perhaps 2600 and even 2300 pencilled in for November and December this year, will most likely happen, but in order for it to happen certain vested interests would need to be appeased first.

With less than half a year to go before the auction, it is still unclear what exactly is up... MORE

May 25, 2015

Thailand’s senate and Ministry of Public Health have suffered a massive data breach by the Anonymous hackers who claimed to be behind the World Trade Organisation hack. The attackers posted hundreds of database entries online, including logins and passwords as well as personal details of the websites users.

The attack was reported to have been in retaliation for Thailand’s indifference to the plight of human trafficking and collusion by officials.

The fact that the senate working group website stored passwords in plaintext is worrying. Who in their right mind stores... MORE

May 13, 2015

On 8 May armed soldiers stormed Police headquarters and took nine Israeli businessmen into custody (without charge quoting a Junta order) for possession and trying to sell telephone eavesdropping equipment. Officially this was brushed off as a misunderstanding.

The Israelis were demonstrating a device to intercept phone calls, track the location of phone users, and analyze calling data. Some reports say that they were ex-Israeli military which, considering that nearly everyone there was in the army, is probably true and probably beside the point.

However, further details... MORE

May 11, 2015

The GSM Association has released a report on Thailand’s digital economy that manages to skirt around the two elephants in the room - the lack of clarity on spectrum actually being offered and the draconian, totalitarian digital economy laws.

“Based on the modeling we have conducted, we estimate that if the Thai authorities are able to facilitate the development of a vibrant broadband market (which will also meet the targets set by the Digital Economy Plan), broadband connections penetration in the country could increase from 52% in 2013 to 133% by 2020. What this implies for the... MORE

May 05, 2015

“Pakistan’s mobile phone owners told: be fingerprinted or lose your SIM card,” says the Guardian. “Pakistanis face a deadline: Surrender fingerprints or give up cellphone,” goes the Washington Post. “Pakistan orders cellphone users to provide their fingerprints,” says Engadget. Mainstream media certainly likes to paint Pakistan as a totalitarian state that needs more Western style freedoms, but the truth on the ground could hardly be more different.

Many years ago I went to Pakistan as a guest of their telecom regulator for a conference on mobile solutions for the bottom of the... MORE

April 29, 2015

Denial reigns among the cellcos in today’s post-Snowden world. While the likes of Google, Yahoo and US cloud in general has been struggling to come up with answers to surveillance, scrutiny of our cellcos has been lacking, but grassroots efforts are emerging and the metadata gathered is painting a clearer picture of different societies' attitudes towards security and privacy with somewhat surprising results.

This is a problem given how easy it is to eavesdrop on a 2G call (a trick used by the spies is to knock phones off 3G back to 2G) and arguably the move to more secure 3G and... MORE

March 25, 2015

With less than five months to go before Thailand’s great 4G auction, only chaos and confusion reigns with new auction laws not yet passed, new governance bodies still being formed and little idea as to what is even on the auction block, how the auction will be held or even who will be eligible for the auction.

Last Tuesday, the government’s new Digital Economy Commission has ordered or, rather, politely requested that the regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission hold the 4G auction by August. By the end of the week, the NBTC said that no order in... MORE