Thai regulator gets tough over consumer rights

Don Sambandaraksa
telecomasia.net
Thailand’s regulator has fined the nation's operators a total of 53 million baht ($1.7 million) for failing to implement interconnection, failing to enforce prepaid registration and continuing to have prepaid credit expiry.
 
In a series of rulings, the NBTC ordered state-owned TOT to enter into an interconnection contract (IC) with Dtac. It also has fined TOT $658 (20,000 baht) a day for failing to implement the IC. Since the case dates back to 8 October 2010, the total amount payable as of 2 January is $539,000 (16,380,000 baht).
 
The second order fined AIS, Dtac, TrueMove and CAT Telecom for failing to enforce pre-paid registration. The NBTC fined each telco $2,634 (80,000 baht) a day, which together makes up $479,000 (14,560,000 baht) since the NBTC first ordered them on 6 July.
 
The third ruling fined AIS, Dtac and TrueMove for continuing to have pre-paid credit expiry. The regulator has fined each of the three $3,292 (100,000 baht) a day. The order to cease prepaid expiry was given back on 30 May 2012 and totals $721,000 (21.9 million baht).
 
All the fines will now continue to run until the telcos comply with the order.
 
NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasit said the move was just the first in what he called the year of consumer protection.
 
Thailand’s 3G saga has meanwhile entered a new phase, with the office of the ombudsman appealing against an earlier administrative court decision to not accept its lawsuit trying to annul the auction.
 
The court earlier said that the ombudsman did not have the authority to oversee the national broadcasting and telecommunications commission, an independent body.
 
The ombudsman spokesperson explained that the appeal focused on constitution article 47 (which empowers the NBTC to carry out the auction and issue licences; yet it was the 5-member sub-board which ratified the auction and issued the licences, not the full 11-member board). He explained that article 245 of the constitution explicitly gives the ombudsman authority to prosecute constitutional transgressions.
 
The court received the documents on 2 January and is currently processing the appeal.

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