Telenor apologises to junta, as regulator mulls 4G cap

16 Jun 2014

Thailand’s second-largest cellco DTAC and its Norwegian parent Telenor have issued an apology to the Thai telecoms regulator and ruling military junta for telling its users that the National Telecommunications & Broadcasting Commission (NBTC) had ordered a temporary block on Facebook social media access following the recent coup d’etat, TelecomAsia reports. The NBTC and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) denied any involvement with the Facebook outage, which was officially blamed on a large scale network failure. The regulator has apparently threatened to ban DTAC from the upcoming 4G 1800MHz licence auction in August this year due to Telenor’s actions which it called ‘inappropriate’ and ‘ill-mannered’.

The DTAC/Telenor apology said: ‘Earlier this week, Telenor Group released information to both international and Thai media in relation to an incident that occurred on the 28th May. These actions damaged the public image of the NBTC and the NCPO, which regulate the telecommunication industry and oversee the security of the nation as a whole, respectively. The executives of Telenor Group and DTAC regret what happened … Thailand is currently under the administration of the NCPO. Thailand requires unity among its people and its many foreign friends who are operating in the country. The executives of Telenor Group and DTAC would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the NBTC and NCPO. We will continue to strengthen our dialogue with the people of Thailand for the betterment of the country.’

Meanwhile, NBTC telecoms committee chairman Setthapong Malisuwan has said he will propose banning any operators holding more than 25MHz in the 1800MHz band from bidding in August’s 4G licence auction. This would effectively stop DTAC from participating in the LTE competition as it was assigned a 2×50MHz 1800MHz GSM block under its build-transfer-operate (BTO) concession with state-owned CAT Telecom which expires in 2018. 2×25MHz of this portion has remained unused; DTAC has claimed exclusive rights over all of its BTO spectrum until the 2018 expiry but on the other hand the cellco has agreed in principle with the regulator that returning the unused 1800MHz block for reallocation under technology-neutral (4G) licences would be the best long-term solution, according to TeleGeography, and the NBTC has pencilled in a potential auction of the partially-used 1800MHz DTAC frequencies for September 2015. This Thursday (19 June 2014) the NBTC will hold a public forum on the 1800MHz LTE auction plans.

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