Thai govt leans on AIS to surrender 8m users to True

26 Apr 2016

A newspaper report has accused deputy prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, NBTC Secretary-General Takorn Tantasit and ICT Minister Uttama Savanayana of trying to strongarm AIS into handing over 8 million 2G customers to TrueMove in a meeting last week.

In a report, Thai-language newspaper Manager said that the three - along with ICT Permanent Secretary Songporn Komolsuradej, AIS CEO Somchai Lertsutiwong and True CEO Supachai Chearavanont - recently held a meeting in which Takorn had drafted an MOU for the participants to sign.

The MOU would force AIS to sign a new roaming agreement with True and scrap its current 2G roaming agreement with Dtac. Another key point was that it would also give the NBTC oversight and jurisdiction in number portability from AIS to TrueMove. The MOU allegedly stipulated that the NBTC’s judgement in this matter would be final and there would no appeal.

The report said that Takorn kept trying to coerce the AIS CEO into signing the MOU but Somchai refused, saying he had to consult with his board first and that besides there was no need as of yet as AIS was going to bid for the 900-MHz spectrum and even if that failed, they had the 2G roaming agreement with Dtac.

Manager quoted the MICT source as saying the NBTC-drafted MOU clearly was illegal not just under NBTC’s own laws, but under Thailand’s WTO obligations.

Manager quoted another anonymous source in the NBTC saying that the meeting was called under the orders of the “big boss” who wants the matter to be done and dusted as soon as possible. The source also highlighted conflict of interest pointing out that Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu’s son was now working at one of AIS’ competitors.

Wissanu’s son, Dr Witchaya Krea-ngam, is currently a specialist for government relations at True Corporation.

The draft MOU has also been leaked onlineby someone calling themselves @NBTCnews on Twitter.

Earlier the issue of number portability had descended into a fierce war with True launching an aggressive campaign and paperless MNP request system that Dtac and AIS refused to acknowledge as legally binding. The NBTC ordered Dtac and AIS to accept the paperless porting requests, to which the two telcos stood their ground saying they would obey the law.

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