Dtac faces LTE bid expulsion for exposing junta Facebook ban

Don Sambandaraksa
12 Jun 2014

Thailand's telecoms regulator has reacted angrily to Dtac’s parent company Telenor for exposing a secret order to block Facebook access on 28 May, days after the coup d’etat, and is looking to exclude Dtac from the upcoming LTE spectrum auction in retaliation.

Most of the telcos towed the official line that it was caused by a massive network failure. National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission Takorn Tanatasit denied that the regulator had anything to do with the outage as did the junta, the National Council for Peace and Order.

However, Telenor issued a statement that its subsidiary Dtac had received an order from the NBTC to cut Facebook access.

“Telenor Group can confirm that on Wednesday 28 May Dtac received a notification at 15:00 local time from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission of Thailand to restrict access to Facebook temporarily. This restriction, which was implemented at 15:35, potentially had impact on Dtac's 10 million Facebook-using customers. Telenor Group believes in open communication and regrets the consequences this might have had for the people of Thailand. Access to Facebook was restored at approximately 16:30 local time.”

NBTC telecoms-sub-board chairman Colonel Setthapong Malisuwan said that Telenor’s actions were inappropriate, ill-mannered and clearly showed that Dtac was in breach of the Foreign Dominance Notification and that he would be looking to exclude Dtac from the upcoming LTE 1800 auction on those grounds.

Colonel Setthapong said that the telecom board would now examine Dtac’s shareholding in greater detail and he named Telenor Asia head of communications Tor Odland personally as an example of how a foreigner was now dominant over Dtac.

Odland did not reply to email asking for comment. Dtac replied saying it had no comment.

Previously, during the 3G auction two years ago, the regulator refused to act on the FDN saying that it had to act on a complaint from an affected party. It was argued that at least two of the three bidders were foreign dominated, or perhaps all three if the indigenous telco’s looming mountain of foreign debt was taken into account.

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