CAT to sue Thai regulator for $8.7b

Don Sambandaraksa
11 Oct 2013

Thailand state telco CAT Telecom will sue telecom regulator NBTC for 275 billion baht ($8.76 billion) in damages over the TrueMove concession extension measure, a move it believes is illegal and has robbed it of 17 million subscribers.

The number is based on the average revenue per user of the 17 million TrueMove 2G subscribers multiplied by the number of years that CAT’s My 3G network has to run until 2025.

The NBTC’s consumer protection notification was passed to give time for the subscribers to port out to TrueMove’s new licenced network, effectively extending the concession that ended on 15 September 2013 for one year.

CAT CEO Kittisak Sriprasert said that the board of directors had approved a 280 million baht legal budget to pursue the case.

Kittisak said that the notification was illegal as it ordered TrueMove and DPC (an AIS subsidiary) to take care of their customers even though the two companies rights to the concession had ended on 15 September 2013, Separately, he alleged, any rights to use the spectrum had also ended on the same date in accordance to the NBTC act.

He said that the notification also called for urgent porting of subscribers out of the network, which directly affects CAT as the subscribers are part of the concession and should instead be ported to CAT’s My 3G network at the end of the concession.

The notification also called for mass porting, which was broke the MNP rules that only allows for opt-in porting.

Earlier, the regulator had announced it would be studying the possibility of auctioning off dual-carrier LTE-A in 900/1800 instead of just LTE 1800 next year. NBTC telecoms chair Colonel Setthapong Malisuwan told reporters that dual-carrier LTE-A was already used in Australia, and would be soon going live in Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.

Setthapong said he had instructed the ITU, as a consultant to the NBTC, to carry out the study.

No mention was made of the high-speed rail project GSM-R that may expand Thailand’s 900-MHz band from 17.5 to 20 or 31 MHz at the cost of Dtac and perhaps TrueMove 850 3G. Dtac says clarity is needed urgently before studies commence.

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