TOT, CAT turnaround a top priority for Thai govt

Staff writer
02 Sep 2014

Thailand’s new ICT Minister will make it a priority to find a survival plan for the two state telcos in his expected one-year tenure.

In his first interview as ICT Minister Pornchai Rujiprapa said his priority will be finding new revenue for his two state telcos, CAT Telecom and TOT Corporation, which are facing a cash crunch now that concession money from the (2G) telecom networks have to be returned to the Ministry of Finance.

Pornchai said he would call on his expertise as former deputy secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board to turn the two organizations around. He said that the two had strength in networks and that he would be looking for commercial partners in other fields to deliver a converged solution.

Asked if he was going to merge the two state telcos, the ICT Minister said such a decision would wait until he has more details after he actually starts working.

Previously the junta’s roadmap has tentatively put timeframe for a new constitution to be in place and elections held by the last quarter of 2015.

Previously CAT and TOT have put in a request to the junta for huge swathes of spectrum - the entire 900-MHz and 2.3-GHz bands in the case of TOT - as part of their survival plan.

Outgoing National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commissioner for legal Suthipol Thaweechaikarn had also asked the junta to amend the NBTC act to allow for sub-letting of spectrum and for spectrum allocation to be via any method the junta felt appropriate.

Together these amendments would set the scene for the two state telcos to become rent-collectors sub-letting spectrum to commercial operators - as was the case for years before deregulation.

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