True may avoid punishment over CAT 3G deal

Don Sambandaraksa
08 Jan 2013

Almost 200 days after Thai regulator NBTC announced that the TrueMove H deal with CAT Telecom was illegal and had to be amended, a sub-committee has decided that the breach was unintentional and recommended that True not be punished.

At the heart of the matter is how CAT telecom outsourced its 850-MHz 3G network to True (under subsidiary BFKT) and then resold it to True (under a subsidiary called RealMove) which is finally marketed as TrueMove H. This is illegal under Thailand’s frequency allocation act, as a licencee must operate the network itself.

In June 2012, the NBTC ordered the contracts amended so that CAT controls the spectrum and noted that True (BFKT) was operating the network without any licence of its own.

Since then, however, things have dragged on extremely slowly. Only in December did CAT Telecom’s CEO said he was seeking legal advice from the government lawyer, the council of state, on this matter.

Elsewhere, TrueMove’s current 2G network concession will be expiring in September 2012. NBTC commissioner Dr Pravit Leesathapornwongsa has warned TrueMove users to quickly port out as the network will go down in September when the concession ends.

Concession holder CAT Telecom has said it is willing to return half the spectrum and keep the other half for its own 4G network. The regulator has said that CAT must return all the spectrum for re-allocation.

TrueMove (2G) has around 20 million subscribers. TrueMove H (850 MHz 3G) has 2.5 million.

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